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Last girder for LAX Theme Building

Last girder for LAX Theme Building

Dec. 12, 1960: Construction at Los Angeles International Airport reaches a milestone. The Theme Building’s last girder gets placement under the watchful supervision of Airport Commissioner Don Belding.

Staff photographer Jack Carrick’s image appeared in the next morning’s Los Angeles Times. The accompanying story reported:

With quarter-inch precision, Roy Milne dropped a 10-ton steel arch into place Tuesday to complete the steel framework of the new Theme structure at the new International Airport.

He manipulated seven hand controls and three foot brakes in the cab of a crane to ease the monstrous piece of steel literally into the lap of a waiting steelworker perched 80 ft. above him.

Five minutes later, three workers at the peak of the structure, 135 ft. up, grabbed the other end and eased it into place.

The $2.2 million structure was “flagged in.”

An American Flag, in fact, rode up on the beam to signal the completion of high steel work. This was a variation of an old tradition of steel builders. They formerly marked the last piece of steel with a small, red flag. They changed the flag to the national ensign when “red” took on political implications.

The Star-Spangled Banner became disconnected from its slender mast as the beam dropped into place and a worker climbed casually out on the sloping ridge of the steel to tie it back in place.

The structure will house a restaurant, “floating” like a satellite 80 ft. above the airport, and on top of the glassed eating facility will be an observation deck with 360-deg. view of the $50 million jet-age airport. …

The Theme Building opened in 1961. The observation deck is currently only open on weekends. The restaurant is closed.

Oct. 4, 1960: Construction in progress for new Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport. Credit: Steve Fontanini/Los Angeles Times

Nov. 29, 2010: The Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport. Credit: Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times.

scott.harrison@latimes.com

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1 Comment

  1. July 31, 2015, 11:16 am

    Back in the days when LAX wasn’t such a nightmare of traffic. Too bad the city fathers didn’t possess the foresight to build people movers for passengers, and ban all vehicles (and I do mean all) from the terminal area.

    By: RCK

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