Grand Central Air Terminal
Interactive map highlighting the building's location
Location1310 Air Way, Glendale, California
Coordinates34°09′47″N 118°17′12″W / 34.1630°N 118.2867°W / 34.1630; -118.2867
Architectural styleArt Deco, Spanish Colonial Revival
NRHP reference No.100000780[1]
Added to NRHPMarch 27, 2017
Interior of Grand Central Air Terminal building today

Grand Central Airport is a former airport in Glendale, California. Also known as Grand Central Air Terminal (GCAT), the airport was an important facility for the growing Los Angeles suburb of Glendale in the 1920s and a key element in the development of United States aviation. The terminal, located at 1310 Air Way, was built in 1928 and still exists, owned since 1997 by The Walt Disney Company as a part of its Grand Central Creative Campus (GC3). Three hangars also remain standing. The location of the single concrete 3,800-foot (1,200 m) runway has been preserved, but is now a public street as the runway was dug up[2] and converted into Grand Central Avenue.

The terminal building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on March 27, 2017.[3]


The concept for the airport probably began with Leslie Coombs Brand (1859–1925), a major figure in the settlement and economic growth of the Glendale area. He had purchased land on the lower slopes of Mount Verdugo overlooking the city, and built an imposing residence that became known as Brand Castle (which today houses the Brand Library) in 1904. Just across the mostly dry Los Angeles River he could see the Griffith Park Aerodrome's grass field, built in 1912. Just three years later he decided to build his own grass airstrip below his mansion. He built his first hangar in 1916,[4] put together a fleet of planes, and held fly-in parties.[5] The only requirement was that guests had to arrive in their own planes and bring passengers.[6]

The Douglas DC-1 in front of the terminal
External image
image icon Aerial view of Grand Central Airport, looking southeast

From this modest beginning, plans were soon hatched by local entrepreneurs to establish an airport with commercial possibilities a little further down below his field. In 1923 the 112-acre (0.45 km2) Glendale Municipal Airport opened with a 100 ft (30 m)-wide paved runway 3,800 ft (1,200 m) long, and came to be renamed "Grand Central Air Terminal" when it was purchased by other venture capitalists, who expanded it to 175 acres (0.71 km2). On February 22, 1929, a terminal with a control tower had been built, and was opened to much fanfare. Designed by Henry L. Gogerty,[7] the intention was to construct an air terminal along the lines of a classic railroad terminal. It combined a style consisting of Spanish Colonial Revival with Zig-zag Moderne influences (Art Deco).[8] GCAT became a major airport of entry to Los Angeles and provided the first paved runway west of the Rocky Mountains.

Within a year, the entire enterprise was sold to the Curtiss-Wright Flying Service,[9] managed by C. C. Moseley, a co-founder of the future Western Airlines. It became the city's largest employer. It was also at Grand Central that Moseley established the first of his private flying schools, Curtiss-Wright Technical Institute (later renamed Cal-Aero Academy).

The former runway, now Grand Central Avenue

Pioneering people at GCAT

Many famous aviation pioneers made their home and their mark at GCAT, as pilots, designers, mechanics, teachers, salesmen, and airplane/power-plant builders, often serving in some combination, including:

Airlines originating at GCA included TWA,[16] Varney, Western, and Pickwick Airlines (1928–30).

Movies and movie stars

The airport was the setting of several films, including Howard Hughes' Hell's Angels (1930), Shirley Temple's Bright Eyes (1934), Lady Killer (1933) starring James Cagney, Sky Giant (1938) with Joan Fontaine, Hats Off[17] (1936) with John Payne, the musical Hollywood Hotel[18] (1937) with Dick Powell, and the adventure film Secret Service of the Air (1939) starring Ronald Reagan. Episodes of the 1941 movie serial Sky Raiders show the terminal and other GCAT structures. The terminal was a favorite shooting location.[19]

The airport was also known for stunt flying[20] and supplying planes for use in the movie industry by people like Paul Mantz. Just about every airplane design flying during the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s could be seen at GCAT for use in movies, or there to be serviced.[21]


When Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941, Grand Central Airport (like all other west coast airports) was immediately closed to private aviation. (The remaining airlines had already moved to Burbank.) The government moved in, heavily camouflaged the place, and converted it into an important defense base for Los Angeles. In 1942, the runway, which originally ended at Sonora Avenue, was extended North to Western Avenue, giving it a 5,000' length to accommodate large airplanes and future jet aircraft.

Training of United States Army Air Forces flying cadets began under contract to Grand Central Flying School, Cal-Aero Training Corporation, and Polaris Flight Academy. The facility was assigned to West Coast Training Center (later Western Flying Training Command) as a primary (level 1) pilot training airfield, which also instructed Royal Air Force flying cadets. Some who would go on to become members of the Eagle Squadrons. (71 Squadron: Bob Sprague, J.J. Lynch, 121 Squadron: Kenneth Holder, Don McLeod, Jim Peck, Forrest Cox, John Lynch. 133 Squadron: James Coxetter, Hugh Brown). The Fairchild PT-19 was the primary flight trainer, along with Vultee BT-13s.[22] The Grand Central Flying School (GCFS) started out at the airfield and evolved into the Cal-Aero Flight Academy (CAFA).[23] Cal-Aero had schools at Ontario, Mira Loma at Oxnard, and Polaris at War Eagle Field. Glendale Junior College staffed flight ground school at Grand Central Air Field.[23]

A P-38 training base was built on the west side near the river which prepared the 319th Fighter Wing for action in Europe. Hundreds of P-51s, C-47s, B-25s and others transitioned Grand Central Airport in Glendale for refurbishment and reconditioning. Larger aircraft, like the B-29, were sent to the Grand Central Service Center in Tucson, Arizona.

On April 14, 1944, a fire destroyed three buildings, burned seven aircraft, and injured five workmen, one of them seriously.[24]


1400 Air Way in Glendale (just northwest of the old airport terminal), where several films of the Disney Renaissance were partially produced

In 1947, the runway was cut back to 3,800' (southeast of Sonora Ave) due to pressure from local government.[25] The airport was returned to private use, renamed Grand Central Airport, ceased to be profitable, and was closed in 1959 [26] to make way for the development of the Grand Central Business Park. Before its closing, the airport hosted a SCCA National Sports Car Championship race on November 13, 1955, that attracted 6,000 spectators. The closed airport was then used as a private heliport for the Los Angeles Police Department's fleet of police helicopters, some Bell 47s ("recips") and some Bell 206s ("Jet Rangers"), until the new LAPD Hooper Heliport opened on top of the Piper Tech Building in downtown Los Angeles in 1983.

In 1961, WED Enterprises then a part of Retlaw Enterprises, opened a creative workshop in the business park.[27]

Major Corliss C. Moseley established the Grand Central Rocket Company in the vicinity of Grand Central Air Terminal in 1955.[28] It was there that the third stages of early Vanguard rockets, including the first two to reach orbit, were built.[29]

Grand Central Creative Campus

Grand Central Creative Campus map

Plans were announced for the Grand Central Creative Campus redevelopment of the Grand Central Business Park in September 1999. Additional details were released in March 2000 indicating that it would have 3.6 million square feet in several four- to six-story buildings for office, production and sound stages and hold 10,000 employees.[30] In 2001, The Walt Disney Co. was planning to expand at the location from a single building to a campus of 6 million square feet.[31] In early May 2004, the Disney Company received design approval for its first phase of this redevelopment. This expected to spearhead the redevelopment of the San Fernando corridor of Glendale. This phase consisted of two 125,000-square-foot office buildings on a company owned 100-acre lot at 1101 and 1133 Flower St. which were to fit in with the Art Deco motif design of the KABC-TV studio facility nearby the campus (KABC had relocated from their previous home base at The Prospect Studios, formerly the ABC Television Center West).[27] A Disney employee day care for the campus was given design approval in July 2008.[32] Disney's Pixar sequel unit, Circle 7 Animation, was started in a converted warehouse on Circle 7 Drive in 2004, only to be closed in 2006.[33][34][35]

1101 and 1201 Flower Avenue office buildings on the Grand Central Creative Campus

The campus' second phase began construction in September 2010 on a 338,000-square-foot six-story building with a five-story wing and a parking structure. 1,200 employees were expected to be working in the new building.[36] In mid-November 2018, the Disney Stores USA headquarters moved out of the Royal Laundry Complex to G3C.[37][38]

Disney units on the campus are:[39]

The KABC-TV studios are adjacent to the campus, but not a part of it.[39]

See also


Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. April 15, 2008.
  2. ^ "demolishing the runway". Archived from the original on 2017-01-08. Retrieved 2017-06-07.
  3. ^ "Weekly list of actions taken on properties: 3/27/2017 through 3/31/2017". National Register of Historic Places Program: Weekly List. National Park Service. April 7, 2017. Retrieved 2017-04-11.
  4. ^ Brand mowing his landing strip in front of his hangar
  5. ^ "Fly-in party". Archived from the original on 2017-01-13. Retrieved 2017-06-07.
  6. ^ Brand greets movie star Ruth Roland at his fly-in party
  7. ^ Henry Gogerty bio,
  8. ^ Grill room and dance floor 1930 Archived 2017-01-13 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ "Curtiss-Wright Flying Service". Archived from the original on 2017-01-08. Retrieved 2017-06-07.
  10. ^ "Amelia Earhart at GCA". Archived from the original on 2017-01-08. Retrieved 2017-06-07.
  11. ^ Charles Anderson
  12. ^ "Promotional brochure". Archived from the original on 2017-01-13. Retrieved 2017-06-07.
  13. ^ "City of Glendale ready to go". Archived from the original on 2017-01-08. Retrieved 2017-06-07.
  14. ^ "Howard Hughes and his H-1 Racer". Archived from the original on 2008-12-03. Retrieved 2009-12-14.
  15. ^ Flying magazine- March, 1960.
  16. ^ "TWA at terminal". Archived from the original on 2017-01-08. Retrieved 2017-06-07.
  17. ^ Hats Off
  18. ^ Hollywood Hotel
  19. ^ "List of movies using this location". Archived from the original on 2017-01-08. Retrieved 2017-06-07.
  20. ^ "Rodeo event". Archived from the original on 2017-01-08. Retrieved 2017-06-07.
  21. ^ Memories of Herb Torberg Archived 2008-05-18 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ War Eagle Field, Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields:California - Northern Palmdale area, Paul Freeman, Revised 11/11/20 [1]
  23. ^ a b A Journey Back In Time Grand Central Air Terminal, Airport Journals, AJ staff writer, JULY 1, 2014 [2]
  24. ^ Associated Press, “Airport at Glendale Damaged by Flames”, The San Bernardino Daily Sun, San Bernardino, California, Saturday 15 April 1944, Volume 50, page 1.
  25. ^ Aerial pic looking SE
  26. ^ "The last plane lands". Archived from the original on 2017-01-08. Retrieved 2017-06-07.
  27. ^ a b Kleinbaum, Josh (May 12, 2004). "Bringing magic to San Fernando". Glendale News Press. Tribume Publishing. Archived from the original on December 29, 2016. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
  28. ^ Underwood, John (2006). Grand Central Air Terminal. Arcadia. ISBN 0-7385-4682-8.
  29. ^ To Reach the High Frontier: A History of U.S. Launch Vehicles. University Press of Kentucky. 2002. ISBN 0813127211.
  30. ^ Blankstein, Andrew (March 14, 2000). "New Disney Campus in Glendale to Hire 10,000". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
  31. ^ Peschiutta, Claudia (March 29, 2001). "Disney cuts not expected to hurt local projects". Glendale News Press. Tribume Publishing. Archived from the original on December 29, 2016. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
  32. ^ a b Hokanson, Angela (July 25, 2008). "Disney day care site OKd". Glendale News Press. Tribume Publishing. Archived from the original on February 22, 2015. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
  33. ^ Eller, Claudia; Richard Verrier (March 16, 2005). "Disney Plans Life After Pixar With Sequel Unit". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  34. ^ Daly, Steve (Jun 16, 2006). "Woody: The Untold Story". Entertainment Weekly Magazine. Archived from the original on 1 April 2007. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  35. ^ Steve Daly (February 16, 2007). "Toys Out of the Attic". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 6, 2007.
  36. ^ Shauk, Zain (May 13, 2010). "Glendale OKs major Disney expansion". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
  37. ^ "Statement of Information: Disney Stores USA, LLC". Business Search. California Secretary of State. March 23, 2018. Archived from the original on September 25, 2021. Retrieved June 4, 2019.
  38. ^ "Statement of Information: Disney Stores USA, LLC". Business Search. California Secretary of State. November 19, 2018. Archived from the original on September 25, 2021. Retrieved June 4, 2019.
  39. ^ a b Hamilton, Jeff (January 15, 2014). "CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT CASE NO. PCUP 1326237" (PDF). CITY OF GLENDALE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT. p. 10. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 29, 2016. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
  40. ^ "Our Studio List". Animation Guild. Retrieved 28 December 2016.
  41. ^ Mauney, Matt (November 21, 2014). "D23 event brings Disney archives, Mickey's of Glendale to Orlando". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved June 4, 2019.