Chicago Department of Aviation

O'Hare Celebrates 50 Years Since Dedication by President John F. Kennedy With A Week of Activities for Passengers

CHICAGO, March 25, 2013 -- Today, the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) is launching a week-long celebration in honor of the 50th anniversary of  O'Hare International Airport's formal dedication by President John F. Kennedy on March 23, 1963. 

"O'Hare International is one of the world's busiest and most iconic airports, serving as the central hub of our national transportation system and the global gateway to Chicago," said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "For more than 50 years, O'Hare has been a huge economic engine for the Chicago region. Nearly 40,000 people work at the airport, and the thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity the airport creates extend well beyond its boundaries. With the ongoing progress of the O'Hare Modernization Program and our efforts to attract new air service, O'Hare will continue to be a leader in the global aviation industry for many years to come, creating jobs and economic opportunity for generations of Chicagoans."


When O'Hare was formally dedicated on March 23, 1963, the airport served approximately 16 million passengers through 19 airlines with 426,000 flights per year. Today, O'Hare serves more than 67 million passengers through 50 airlines with nearly 880,000 flights annually.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the airport's formal dedication ceremony, the CDA has created a new page on its website,, with historical photos, a timeline of significant events and a look into O'Hare's future.

"The Chicago Department of Aviation is pleased to celebrate this milestone for O'Hare International Airport, together with all our partners in the airport community," said CDA Commissioner Rosemarie S. Andolino. "During our weeklong celebration, all events are geared to recognize our outstanding employees, loyal travelers, government leaders and other partners who contribute to our success as we continue to make major investments to ensure that O'Hare provides world-class service to Chicago in the years to come." 

For passengers traveling through O'Hare through March  29, the CDA and its airport partners have a number of activities planned:

  • Monday, March 25 - Military Appreciation Day. O'Hare honors all those who serve or have served in the military. The United Service Organizations of Illinois (USO) will staff tables in the domestic terminals where passengers can learn more about O'Hare's two USO centers for military personnel and their families. From 2 to 5 p.m., a military band will perform in Terminal 2 and a variety of live music entertainment will be featured in other terminals.
  • Tuesday, March 26 - Family Day. All terminals will host family-themed entertainment including jugglers, face painters, balloon twisters and clowns from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Children's activity books will be distributed at food and beverage concessions all week long while supplies last.
  • Wednesday, March 27 - O'Hare Employee Day. Employees who work hard each day to run the airport will be recognized with refreshments, luggage tags and a discount at HMSHost restaurant locations. A variety of bands will perform in all terminals from 2 to 5 p.m.
  • Thursday, March 28 - Business Community Day. In recognition of the thousands of business travelers who pass though O'Hare on a daily basis, passengers can get 30 minutes of free Wi-Fi at the airport from Boingo's splash screen. Jazz bands will perform in all terminals from 2 to 5 p.m.
  • Friday, March 29 - Celebrate Chicago Day. O'Hare celebrates everything that makes Chicago a world-class city, and showcases the airport's key role in supporting tourism. Staff from Choose Chicago will distribute promotional materials about the city to passengers in baggage claim. International music performances will take place in all terminals from 2 to 5 p.m. Eli's Cheesecake Café will provide a cheesecake for a celebratory cake-cutting and offer free slices to passengers in Terminal 1 near Gate B9 at 1:30 p.m.  

In addition, during this weeklong celebration, airport concessions will offer discounts and specialty items, retail locations will give away 50th anniversary ink pens.