October 10, 2019
From the roads to buildings located on our property there is significance in every name you see. That includes the name of the Airport itself.
Ben Elbert Douglas Sr. was called “the builder of modern Charlotte.” Serving three terms as mayor from 1935 to 1941, he is credited with bringing commercial aviation to the Queen City. He also is credited with building the first low-cost public housing and spearheading the construction of Independence Boulevard.
The Airport was named Douglas Municipal Airport in his honor in April 1941. Douglas called it “the proudest day of my life.” In 1982, the same year the current terminal opened, the Airport changed its name to Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
Around town, Douglas was known for his love of the city. In an interview he once said, “I’d rather be mayor of Charlotte than vice-president of the United States.” In fact, he was the first mayor of Charlotte elected by voters. A new charter changed the process from appointment to election. A true politician, Douglas loved shaking hands, talking about Charlotte and causes close to his heart.
Outside of political life, his business ventures included the Douglas and Sing mortuary, Douglas Realty Co. and Douglas Furs, which began as the result of a U.S. government contract to clean the military’s bomber jackets.
Douglas died on July 27, 1981 at 86 years old. For those who knew him, he will always be remembered by his nickname - Sweet Old Ben.
Douglas isn’t the only person whose name appears at the Airport. Here are a few others.
- Queen Charlotte - monarch for whom the City of Charlotte is named and for whom there is a statue at CLT.
- Harlee Avenue – named after Harlee Todd Douglas who was married to Ben Douglas.
- Morris Field – a short-lived former name of the Airport and airfield in honor of William Colb Morris.
- Josh Birmingham – a former Charlotte Douglas International Airport manager.
- Wilson Air Center – named after Kemmons Wilson, the founder of Holiday Inn.
- Old Dowd Road – W. Frank Dowd opened Charlotte Pipe & Foundry in 1907. The Dowd family played a big role in Charlotte manufacturing.
- Tuckaseegee Road – name comes from the Cherokee Indian Trail that used to run in the area.
- Wilkinson Boulevard – named for William Cook Wilkinson, a Charlotte banker and textile mill owner who was the head of the state highway commission when the road was built.