Terminal Town Celebrates Midway Airport’s 35th ‘Re-birthday’

Former Southwest Airlines CEO Howard Putnam to speak at DePaul University

Chicago Midway International Airport was a busy place in 1960, before airlines began migrating to O’Hare Airport in the following decade. (Photo by John Proctor)

CHICAGO —(ENEWSPF)—October 24, 2014. Midway Airport is a critical part of Chicago’s transportation network today, but only a few short decades ago it was nearly abandoned. DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development will commemorate 35 years since the airport’s re-birth under deregulation and welcome former Southwest Airlines CEO Howard Putnam to campus on Thursday, Oct. 30 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at 14 E. Jackson St., Suite 1600. The event is free and open to the public, RSVP at

This celebration is part of Terminal Town, a six-month program from the Chaddick Institute to explore Chicago’s role as the epicenter of U.S. passenger travel.

“Howard Putnam had an instrumental role in United Airlines’ return to Midway in 1964, which helped revive the largely unused airport, and he went on to help create the remarkably spirited company culture at Southwest Airlines,” said Joseph Schwieterman, a professor in DePaul’s School of Public Service and director of the Chaddick Institute. “In the mid-1970s, the number of flights out of Midway had dropped. I remember clumps of grass sprouting through cracks in the runways,” he said.

Schwieterman documents Midway’s bumpy history in his new book, “Terminal Town: An Illustrated Guide to Chicago’s Airports, Bus Depots, Train Stations and Steamship Landings, 1939 to Present.” A leading expert on transportation, Schwieterman writes that Midway has been a chameleon of an airport, persevering by adapting to changing times.

Putnam began his career “throwing bags” at Midway and went on to become CEO of the highly successful Southwest Airlines, known for a culture that places people first. Later, Putnam was recruited to the failing company Braniff International and successfully restructured a major airline into, through and out of Chapter 11.

Putnam has been an entrepreneur and served as director of several startup technology companies. He is an author, speaker and advisor on business issues, change, leadership and ethics. HarperCollins published his first book, “The Winds of Turbulence.”

The event will also include the Midway Historians, who will share their research and stories about the airport’s remarkable past.

In addition, there will be a commemoration at Midway Airport on Saturday, Nov. 1 in the concourse at 5700 S. Cicero. The event will be held in cooperation with the City of Chicago’s Department of Aviation will feature Bob Russo and other former Midway Airlines pilots, as well as prominent researchers of Midway’s  past, including Christopher Lynch and Pat Bukiri. This 20-minute presentation is open to the general public and will include brief comments by Schwieterman, Putnam, and members of the Midway Historians.

For more information about these events and DePaul University’s Terminal Town program, visit


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