Airports as Urban Narratives

Toward a Cultural History of the Global Infrastructures

in Transfers
Restricted access

This article focuses on the process of the design of airports and how in particular the urban context has shaped their specific histories. Far from being merely pure technical or functional equipment, they have been mirrors for contemporary expectations, just as they informed the modern urban imaginary. According to this perspective, an urban history of airports can be traced from the first aerodromes dedicated to large urban publics to the development of spectacular airports driven by the massive recent routinization of air transport so intricately bound up with globalization. Based on research on specific cases of the design and building of New York and Paris airports, this article aims to resist the temptations to dehistoricize the airport topic, and to introduce a narrative mode of thinking about these specific and concrete spaces.