EXPANSION AT THE TEMPORARY TERMINAL
By 1956 Atlanta Municipal Airport was the busiest air transfer hub in the world and traffic had far surpassed the capacity of the temporary terminal. With the "Jet Age" terminal still years from completion, two long meandering concourses were constructed as an interim solution to increase the number of gates. The east wing was also extended to provide additional aircraft parking spaces. Eastern Air Lines dedicated their 900 foot long concourse, at center right in the photo below, on January 22, 1957. Delta's concourse, at bottom center, was nearly a quarter mile long and opened on October 14, 1957.
Here's an article from the November 1957 issue of the Delta Digest, the airline's employee magazine, with details and photos of the airport expansion.
1957 view of a Delta Convair 340/440 at the temporary terminal. The new Eastern concourse can be seen in the background but judging from the way the Delta plane is parked, the Delta concourse was not yet open.
The following video is from an old home movie courtesy of Russ Morgan and features an amazing parade of Constellations, Martin 404s, Convairs, DC-6s and DC-7s as seen from the old observation deck (pictured in the above photo). Delta's concourse can be seen under construction in numerous shots and Eastern's concourse appears to be open, which dates this between January and October 1957. Fans of old propliners will immediately notice that the sound was added in later but it does give it a nice ambience. Thanks again to Russ Morgan for allowing me to share this!
This fantastic view from Delta's 1958 annual report shows the new concourse at nearly full capacity. Seen here are 12 Delta aircraft: 6 DC-7s, 2 DC-6s, 2 Convair 340/440s and 2 DC-3s. A Capital Airlines DC-4 and unidentified DC-3 are at top center and a trio of Southern Airways DC-3s are to the left of the concourse.
A rare color photo of a Delta DC-3 at the temporary terminal in the late 1950s, parked in the same position as the DC-3 closest to the terminal in the above photo.
TWA began service to Atlanta on December 16, 1958 with nonstops to St. Louis, Nashville, Tampa and Miami. These flights were all part of a marathon, multi-stop Miami to California route. Miss Atlanta 1958 and William Hartsfield (at right) helped christen the inaugural Lockheed Constellation with a giant bottle of Coca-Cola. From the Georgia State University Digital Collections.
ATLANTA ENTERS THE JET AGE
Delta introduced pure jet service at Atlanta on September 18, 1959 when it became the first airline in the world to operate the Douglas DC-8. The inaugural flight was to New York's Idlewild Airport, now JFK.
A second level was quickly added to Delta's gates 11 and 12 to allow the installation of jetways that enabled passengers to board the new jets without having to go outside the terminal.
Michel Schou painted this excellent illustration of Delta's DC-8 N801E and the new passenger jetways.
An Atlanta Airport terminal diagram from 1960 shows six airlines serving the airport. Of these six, only Delta remains. What happened to the others? TWA merged into American Airlines in 2001. Southern merged with North Central to become Republic in 1979 which was merged into Northwest in 1986. Northwest was merged into Delta in 2010. Eastern went bankrupt in 1991 and Capital was merged into United in 1961.
This 1960 aerial view shows the cramped arrangement of the airport as well as the close proximity of the temporary terminal to the construction of the new jet port that would open the following year.