Meigs Field

Meigs Field

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Merrill C. Meigs Field Airport was a single-strip airport built on Northerly Island, the man-made island originally created to house the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago, Illinois. The airport opened in December 1948, and became the country's busiest single-strip airport by 1955. The airfield was named for the publisher of the Chicago Herald-Examiner and an aviation booster.The airport was a familiar sight on the downtown lake front. In addition, there were four public helicopter pads at the south end of the runway.In 1995, Mayor Richard M. Daley's office recommended closing Meigs Field and turning Northerly Island into 75 acres of lakefront park. However, the federal legislation component of the deal did not pass the United States Senate.In a controversial move on March 30, 2003, Mayor Daley ordered private crews to destroy the runway in the middle of the night, bulldozing large Xs into the runway surface. (They were later allowed to depart from Meigs' 3,000-foot taxiway.)Mayor Daley defended his actions, described as "sneaky" by aviation groups, by claiming it would save the City of Chicago the effort of further court battles before the airport could close. He claimed that safety concerns required the closure, due to the post-September 11 risk of terrorist-controlled aircraft attacking the downtown waterfront near Meigs Field.By August 2003, construction crews had finished the demolition of Meigs Field, and conversion to a lakefront park was fully underway.In the aftermath, the "Meigs Legacy Provision" was passed into law, which required a 30-day notice to the FAA before the closure of an airport, and maximum fines of $10,000 for every day in violation.

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