Curtiss-Wright Aeronautical University Building
From 1929 to 1953, this building was home to the Curtiss-Wright Aeronautical University, the first accredited flight school in the Midwest to enroll both white and black students and employ white and black flight instructors. The basement of the building was used to teach welding while students on the third floor worked to overhaul engines. The building also held classrooms where pilots learned about navigation, fundamentals of aviation, physics, and other important topics that were supplemented by hands-on time at a nearby airfield. The Curtiss-Wright Corporation was created in 1929 as a merger between the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company and Wright Aeronautical which had been formed by the pioneering Wright aviation family and their investors. Today, the steel-framed building with its terra cotta facade is home to loft-style apartments
Backstory and Context
The story of this building dates back to the city's efforts to position Chicago at the center of the aviation world. Chicago's Harold F. McCormick helped spur a movement in Chicago to establish the city as a world aviation center, starting with the 1910 formation of the Aero Club of Illinois. By August of 1911, the group organized the Chicago International Aviation Meet, the city's first major air show, which attracted 100,000 spectators over the course of nine days. As well, in 1919, the Aero Club opened a modernized airport called Cicero Field. Located west of the city, it featured a 1,500 foot-long runway and room for 250 planes and 40,00 spectators. By the 1920s, Chicago was home to more than twelve airports, including what would become Midway Airport and quickly became the busiest airport in the world by 1931.
Grove, Tim. First Flight Around the World: The Adventures of the American Fliers Who Won the Race. New York: Abrams Books, 2015.
Ramsey, Emily. "Nomination Form: Curtiss-Wright Aeronautical University Building." National Register of Historic Places. April 01, 2013. https://www.nps.gov/nr/feature/places/pdfs/13000827.pdf.