Before there was LAX, the center of Southern California’s air transportation was in Glendale. The airport opened in 1923, two years after local businessman Leslie Brand hosted a fly-in on his property nearby. In 1929, the Slate Aircraft Company began building all-metal dirigibles to carry passengers across the country, but the aircraft—and the business—never got off the ground.
The airport was used by legendary figures in aviation, including Amelia Earhart and Howard Hughes. Charles Lindbergh piloted the United States’s first regularly scheduled coast-to-coast flight from its runway. Passengers would travel by air all day, travel by train at night, then repeat, until they reached the east coast after traveling 48 hours. By the late 1930s, aircraft were able to make the trip in 15 hours.
The airport was a backdrop for several films, including the 1934 hit Bright Eyes, which starred Shirley Temple. After World War II, the runway was shortened, which limited its use to small aircraft, and the airport was no longer profitable. It closed in 1959, becoming Grand Central Business Park, with the Walt Disney Company as one of the first companies to move in.
Disney acquired the business center, and in 2013 began restoration work on the terminal building to bring it back to its original grandeur. The work was completed in 2015. The company then reopened the facility as private offices and a museum. The small museum has original artifacts, photographs, and an educational film, all done with the quality you would expect from Disney.
Know Before You Go
It's only open to visitors who sign up for a tour on the website. Free tours are offered monthly.