Grand Central Air Terminal Museum: Aviation History Worth Seeing

Grand Central Air Terminal Museum started as an aviation building.

Now, it’s a historical museum that is owned and operated by Disney. Located in Glendale, California, it has quite the history. The beautiful building has a mix of Spanish Revival, Art Deco, and Streamline Moderne styles. So, come along and take a look.

The Party that got the Town Talking

It all started with a local businessman that wanted to get the people of Glendale talking. He decided to host a party that required visitors to fly into his estate. This attracted the best of the best pilots and movie stars and encouraged the town to consider building a public airport. Opening in 1923, it was first named Glendale Municipal Airport and was the center of Southern California’s air transportation.

Famous Beginnings

Without LAX around yet, this was the airport of choice, and legendary figures in aviation would use this airport for their flights. Names like Amelia Earhart, Howard Hughes, and Charles Lindbergh came through the airport. By 1929, new investors had expanded the airport and named it Grand Central Air Terminal. Perhaps one of the more famous flights to take off from the newly named airport was when Lindbergh flew coast to coast on the United States’ first regularly scheduled flight. Before this, passengers would travel all day by air, then train by night multiple times to reach the east coast, which took 48 hours. By the late 1930s, aircraft could make the trip in just 15 hours. The small airport was made even more famous because it was the backdrop for several films. One such film was Shirley Temple’s 1934 hit Bright Eyes

War-Time Changes

World War II saw the airport being used as a defense base and was heavily camouflaged. The runway was lengthened to accommodate military planes. After the war, residents complained of the noise, and the runway was shortened. This made the airport accessible only to smaller aircraft, causing a loss in profits, and it closed its doors in 1959.

Disney Moves In

After it closed down, it was known as Grand Central Business Park, and it opened its doors to businesses to rent space. The Walt Disney Company was one of the first companies to move in, and it eventually came to own the entire business center. In 2013, Disney decided to restore the terminal building to its original glory, and once the project completed in 2015, they reopened the facility. Comprised of private offices and a museum, they were able to house original photographs and artifacts, as well as an educational film to show visiting guests. 

Take a Tour for Yourself

Today, you can visit the museum and learn about its roots. Visitors interested in attending one of their free monthly tours can sign up on their website. What a great way to experience a piece of aviation history!