Beginning with our first anniversary in June 1972, we proclaimed June to be “Our Birthday Month.” Last week, I mentioned that I had found a treasure trove of early negatives, and I am excited to share these mostly unseen images as a Southwest birthday gift to you throughout the month. Ever since I began my first dives through all of our photos, slides, and negatives, I have been looking for images of our initial gates at Dallas Love Field. While I found some photos from ramp side showing our North Concourse operation, the upstairs gate areas remained a mystery … until now.
We begin with a view that you may actually have seen before in various Southwest locations and publications, although this image comes directly from the original negative. The scene above is during 1973’s great $13 Fare War when Southwest came up with the idea of giving a fifth of premium liquor (or a leather ice bucket) to Customers who bought the full one-way fare of $26 between Dallas and Houston Hobby. Until a couple of months ago, I had never put two and two together to realize that, since the fare war was in 1973, this obviously had to be a view of the gate podium on the North Concourse at Love Field. Note the gate backdrop which has the original “tilted” logo and a digital clocklike display of the departure and arrival time for the next flight. Keep in mind that, when this gate area opened in 1971, Southwest used flight times instead of flight numbers in many public timetables. Even though a much degraded copy of this photo ran in the May 4 Flashback Fridays, I wanted to provide you a clearer, first-generation copy.
While the previous photo has been distributed before, I don’t think the photo above has even been seen by anyone other than maybe the photographer before. We are looking at either the Gate 23 or Gate 25 holding area. The rail on the left separated deplaning Customers from those waiting to board. Unlike our current concourse (the West or former American Concourse) with its large picture windows, these Delta gates on the North Concourse had small vertical windows. (As one of the last modernized concourses, Delta tried to reduce construction costs because they considered this to be a very temporary facility.) Ironically, for about ten years from 1997 to about 2007, thousands of Southwest Employees attended University for People glasses in this space after it was remodeled for classrooms. It can barely be seen, but the Delta travel poster on the far wall offers a clue to the gate’s owner.
Another ownership clue is the tail of a Delta DC-9 seen outside one of the windows. In this blowup, you can also see a group of our Flight Attendants awaiting the outbound flight.
The photo above came from a different negative strip, but it shows the area behind the railing. The door to the jetbridge is in the upper left corner. A rope hangs across the opening in the railing for outbound passengers. This gate mirrors the standard Delta gate design of the period, and it looks a lot like the gates in Delta’s facility at the old terminal in Atlanta.
Even though the photo above isn’t the best quality, it offers the only look at the North Concourse hallway that I have seen. To the left is the hallway leading down the second story gate area. The North Concourse consisted of two sections (this section which handled DC-9s and DC-8-51s, and the larger east portion that handled 747s and DC-8-61s in one area, with a large DC-9 holding area beyond that) separated by the old original single level concourse. At two places in each respective section, hallways that passed over the original concourse connected each section. This photo looks down the hallway toward the main terminal end of the concourse. Again, many Southwest Employees will recognize this as the hallway of the University for People. The University also utilized the original escalator entrance to the upper level and Delta’s concourse ticket counter remodeled to serve as the University’s reception desk. To the right of the photo, we have a framed photo of one of our 737s wearing the original titles on the gate house wall.
Finally, we go up on the roof for this bird’s eye view of the gate, complete with either N21SW or N22SW wearing original titles. Behind our aircraft, we see our future gate area, American’s West Concourse. The peeling paint on the jetbridge shows that Delta obviously is aware that they only have a relatively short time left to use the facility before moving to the new DFW Airport in a few months. (To be honest, the peeling paint is a surprise because I know too well that Delta used to have a policy that, if rampers had idle time, they were given a paintbrush and a can of paint.)
An American 707 is just to the right of our tail, and next to that is a DC-10. Next week, we will go outside on the North Concourse, and I think all our Avgeeks will enjoy the view. Out of the more than 41 years we have operated from Love Field, we only used the gates on the North Concourse for a little less than three years. Still, it is from that real estate that the first Southwest flight departed on June 18, 1971, and looking at these photos is like looking at our birth.