Salt Lake International Airport

Memories of the World Map

For travelers and non-travelers alike, the World Map in Terminal One has been a source of wonder and inspiration. Airport police chief Craig Vargo remarks that “I remember during the slow times watching parents walking around it with their kids and showing them, “Here’s this place.” or “Here’s that place.” or “How would you like to visit this place?” or “This is where we are now and this is where we’re going.””

It’s ironic: That visitors to the airport could “travel” as much in the middle of the terminal as they could on one of the many planes leaving the terminal. Director of engineering Kevin Robins remembers, “As a kid, I’d come out the airport when my dad had to travel, and I’d follow the lines. “Hey, I’m going to go to New York!””

But you didn’t have to be a child to be transported. “I spent a number of years on midnight shift,” recalls superintendent of operations Al Stuart. “The kids would come out late at night with a tablecloth and stem glasses. They’d sit down on Paris and say, “We just had dinner in Paris.” That happened all the time.” From his office, ground transportation manager Larry Bowers used to watch families of missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints spread out blankets to picnic on the places where the missionaries were headed.

Even today as security lines occupy the space, the World Map is still a focal point of airport life. The saying, according to former finance director Jay Bingham, is “I’ll meet you at the World Map.” That’s all that’s needed. Adds Chief Vargo: “Anyone who had been to the airport would know exactly where to go.”