Located 9 miles south of Downtown Baltimore and 30 miles northeast of Washington, D.C., Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport is a major international airport in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.
The greater Glen Burnie area is served by three airports, BWI being the largest. The other two are Dulles International Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
The airport is one of several Southwest Airlines hubs and is expected to be the busiest in the region's metropolitan area and the United States by 2021. The total land area of BWI is 3,160 acres.
Baltimore's first African-American Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall, inspired the airport's naming.
Just before the war's end, preparations were made to build a new airport on an area of 3,200 acres. In 1944, the Baltimore Aviation Commission announced that a 2,100-acre plot of land near Linthicum Heights was the ideal site for a new airport. It was predicted that $9 million would be needed to construct the airport. The location was chosen for several reasons, including its proximity to the Pennsylvania Railroad line, the Baltimore and Annapolis Railroad line, and the planned Baltimore-Washington Parkway, as well as its general accessibility and visibility.
Construction began in May 1947 after much of the site had been acquired from Friendship Methodist Church in 1946. On Easter Sunday of 1948, Friendship Methodist Church performed its final service. The airport expansion necessitated the demolition of Friendship Methodist Church. In addition, other plots of land were acquired, and 170 people whose remains had been interred in a cemetery were relocated. In order to make room for the airport, the Baltimore–Fort Meade Road was relocated to the west.
In 1972, the Friendship International Airport was purchased by the Maryland Department of Transportation for $36 million from the City of Baltimore. The Glen Burnie, Maryland State Aviation Administration expanded from a staff of three to over two hundred under the direction of the Maryland Department of Transportation. Secretary of Transportation Harry Hughes almost immediately announced plans to renovate, upgrade, and modernize all Maryland airport infrastructure.
On November 16, 1973, the airport's name was changed to Baltimore/Washington International Airport in an effort to draw more travelers from the Washington metropolitan region, particularly Montgomery and Prince George's counties. It took the International Air Transport Association seven years to update the airport's IATA code from BAL to BWI (the new name was officially adopted in October 1980). An airport at Bewani, Papua New Guinea, formerly used the BWI code.
In 1974, after spending $30 million, the airport underwent its first phase of modernization. Three additional air cargo terminals were built, increasing the airport's capacity for cargo to 2.53 acres, and instrument landing capabilities and runway systems were upgraded. Check out House of Tropicals.