Living At, and Around, DFW Airport

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About four years back, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill professor John D. Kasarda ID'd Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport as the city center of the future -- the so-called aerotropolis. Well, Kasarda's turned his article into a full-blown tome that just landed in the mailbox: Aerotropolis: The Way We'll Live Next, due to arrive in stores virtual and otherwise March 1. And, of course, DFW takes up quite a few pages, most in the chapter "Up in the Air," so named in homage of Walter Kirn's book and Jason Reitman's big-screen adaptation.

Matter of fact, write Kasarda and Greg Lindsay, DFW laid the groundwork for the city of the future -- the "invention of nowhere" as somewhere to call home. The sprawling airport, they write, "represents a turning point in how we build airports and how we think of them." They go on to outline the origins of the airport courtesy the North Texas Commission (which, in 1972, coined and copyrighted the word "Metroplex"), detail the involvement of landscape artist Robert Smithson (who died in a plane crash a year before the airport opened) and discuss how its original intentions clashed with the end result:

DFW was the pivot between the overmatched airport of the Jet Age and the megalithic ones at the heart of most aerotropoli. Not entirely modern, in some respects it was obsolete by the time it opened. The layout of its terminals had been inspired by a Hertz Rent a Car commercial in which a businessman literally floats from his plane to a convertible. The airport director commanded his architects to do something similar, designing DFW with no barriers between plane and car. They obliged, stringing the semicircular terminals along a central highway. You would park next to your gate and slip through the terminal with minimal fuss. "No crowds, no confusion, no pain," they promised.

They reneged after Congress demanded luggage-screening and security checkpoints for all airports, starting in 1973 ... DFW's in-and-out, "park-and-fly" concept never got off the ground."

And if DFW is the aerotropolis of the future, then nearby Southlake is "textbook Reloville," so named for all the transplants who've moved to the master-planned subdivision to be near the airport. Also making appearances in the book: the Tongans of Euless, the airport's Grand Hyatt and the Gaylord Texan, Trammell Crow, the Dallas Market Center and other hot spots in between here, there and wherever it is you actually need to get be.

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