Steve Beswick’s images of LA/Ontario Airport’s Terminal 1 suggest how quickly things can change. First opening in 1950 and greatly expanded in 1970, the wide expanse of the building is a testament to the available land, growing population and economic investment in the Inland Empire. The last flight was in 1998 and now it sits empty and unused and one has to wonder why, since most airline terminals are both crowded and overused.
Beswick has fond memories of the place and that partly explains why he bothered to make these pictures. He writes about a time before hour-long security checkpoints, when airlines prided themselves on customer service and being friendly. At one time, working for the airlines was a plumb job with good pay and great benefits. But as costs have risen and corporations demand less ‘overhead’ (read: employees with benefits) our flying experience is more like the old bus terminal than the modern notion of high speed and efficient flights.
These highly formal images highlight the physical characteristics of the architecture and the optimism of the time it was built and remodeled, and they are infused with the artist’s sense of how much has changed in his lifetime. But when we consider that there is a homeless encampment a mile away, I also have to wonder why this vast structure sits empty.