Archive Gallery: Yesteryear’s Airports of the Future

Cotton runways, a runway powered by ocean currents and something called "the Aerotropolis"

Most of us consider airports an unglamorous, necessary evil. Between the inevitable delays, grumpy travelers, long lines, and lost baggage, we can barely summon the energy to appreciate our surroundings, let alone how they were conceived.

Like us, past generations have envisioned a future of efficient, aesthetically-pleasing airports, and our 137-year archive certainly yields a few fantastical gems.

Just three decades ago, wave-powered landing fields, rotating airports atop skyscrapers and football arenas within terminals were all posed to revolutionize travel, or at least to get people to their destinations on time.

Even today’s most renowned facilities, like the Hong Kong International Airport, have nothing on the past imaginings of visionaries and architects. Click through our gallery for a retrospective look at the oddest (and most extravagant) concepts of futuristic airports. Only time can tell whether any of these features will be realized—maybe then, we’d enjoy flying a little bit more.