Milwaukee’s Lake Front Airport

Next time you travel over the Hoan Bridge, look around and imagine what might have been if some ideas had been carried through about 80 years ago. This editorial is from the Milwaukee Journal of August 27, 1930. Remember, Maitland field was about where the summerfest grounds are now, and of course, the Illinois Steel Co. site was south of this.

“A.R. Taliaferro, chief of the airport division of the United States department of commerce, tells Milwaukeeans something about Maitland field. It is too small, he says, for general airport use; it probably is not the proper field ultimately to be a main airport and certainly not the proper field to be a joint water-rail-air terminal. Mr. Taliaferro makes no final declaration. His considered opinion will be submitted later. But these seem to be his impressions.

They are in line with what some others have said, with what many Milwaukeeans have thought. Probably the right place for a lake front airport is on the Illinois Street Co. site and on new land that can be made there.

This site also is wanted by the harbor commission. That commission cannot show immediate need for the big tract of land. In fact, it is doubtful whether the purchase of the area would be justified merely for harbor purposes. What the harbor will become—how much shipping will make use of it—remains to be seen.

However, if both ships and airplanes can use this site, and if rail terminals upon it also can be arranged, then the purchase decidedly is worth considering.

Milwaukee should have a lake front terminal airport. It should use Maitland field temporarily; perhaps it will always be of use as a lakefront landing place. But we should not allow any group of enthusiasts to induce the expenditure of much money on that field or gradually to edge in permanent improvements that never will be adequate for real terminal purposes in any event.

Maitland field presents more than the problem of size. The question is whether Milwaukee wants to develop another transportation terminal dangerously near that part of its lake short already dedicated to recreational use, especially by those who cannot afford cottages on inland lakes; or whether the water-rail-air terminal should be developed on another part of the shore, better formed, or larger landing area, more suitable and nearly as convenient to the downtown district.

Maitland field should be used in the meantime, of course; but it should not be developed on any large scale when something better is in prospect—at least not unless the purchase of the Illinois Steel Co. site is found to be impracticable”.

MPL Photo of Maitland Field

MPL Photo of Maitland Field

Dennis Pajot
Milwaukee

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  1. […] eventually found it’s home in 1970 at an abandoned strip of land along the lakefront (the former Maitland Airport) and has been there ever since. The Park is named after Henry Maier, Milwaukee’s […]

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