Thursday, March 15, 2012

National Airlines Network, c.1979

A great smile spreading from California to the Alps, National Airlines ran a boomerang-shaped network at the height of its operations. Multiple routes roped between regions like the strings of a guitar: A cluster of West Coast cities linked to the Deep South and Florida, where the network pivoted up the Eastern Seaboard to New York and Washington, or continued its arc across the Atlantic to five of Europe's largest gateways: London, Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, and Zürich.

The map is unique in that one dot represents multiple airports within one metropolitan region: Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Miami are together; Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, and Fort Myers are one; Charleston/Savannah, New York/Newark, Mobile/Pensacola, and San Francisco/San Jose the same. Its difficult to discern the hubs of the network here, but it seems that Miami, New Orleans and Jacksonville were the keystones of this arch. For the latter two, this was truly a golden age, as neither has yet to regain non-stop transatlantic flights to multiple European cities.

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