A brief history of Naval Air Station Glenview
U.S. Naval air power came of age in the years prior to and during World War II. During this time, Naval Air Station (NAS) Glenview was the largest primary training facility for the U.S. Navy. Nearly 9,000 aviation cadets received primary flight training at this site, and an additional 17,000 pilots were qualified for carrier landings through the Carrier Qualification Training Units.
As a site for naval air training, Glenview was ideally located. It was away from the threats to planes and carriers on either coast and close to the Great Lakes. To make a carrier qualification center, the Navy retrofitted two paddle steamers in Lake Michigan into aircraft carriers, and pilots were able to train for take-off and landing certification. While future pilots were being certified, enlisted men who would be serving on the carriers were trained on a mock carrier deck, reconstructed inside Hangar One. By war’s end, over 17,000 pilots had been qualified, and two retrofitted carriers, the USS Sable, and the USS Wolverine had logged over 135,000 landings. Pilots trained at NAS Glenview served in all theaters of World War II.
Documents relating to the Glenview Naval Air Station
Naval Air Station timeline
- 1923: United States Naval Reserve Aviation Base, Great Lakes, Illinois, is commissioned. It operates a number of seaplanes from the shore facilities of nearby Lake Michigan.
- 1929: Curtiss-Reynolds Airfield is built by the Curtiss Flying Club, a subsidiary of the Curtiss Corporation established by aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss. Construction includes Hangar One. Designed in the International Style by Chicago architect Andrew N. Rebori, it was planned to be the center of a string of airports and flight academies for the company that would stretch across the country. However, The airfield was dedicated nine days before the stock market crash, and the economic depression that followed kept the facility from ever meeting its expectations.
- 1930: Two major air races are staged at the airfield in the 1930s: the National Air Races in 1930 and the Internationals in 1933. There were many airshows held at the site in the 1930s; most were sponsored by such groups as the American Legion and the Chicago Girls Flying Club.
- 1936: Space at Curtiss-Reynolds Airport is leased to the U.S. Navy.
- 1940: Rear Admiral John Downes, USN, Commandant, Ninth Naval District, recommends that the Naval Reserve Aviation Base be moved to the Curtiss-Reynolds Airport. The Navy pays $530,000 for the property.
- 1942: With the outbreak of World War II, the field becomes a focal point for the Navy’s expanded flight training program and a Primary Training Command. A massive construction program ($12,500,000) is launched. Prior to expansion, the station consisted of barracks, 20 officers, 120 enlisted men and less than 100 cadets. In only 212 working days, 1,300,000 sq. yards of concrete were placed for landing mats and runways. Hangars, administration buildings and classroom buildings followed. An additional 569.55 acres were purchased adjacent to the field, west of Shermer Road and south of old Lake Avenue. These acquisitions included the remainder of the old Herman Rugen property and the 36-hole Pickwick Golf Course.
- 1943: The station is designated a Naval Air Station and recognized as NAS Chicago. It grows to 300 officers, 1,000 cadets, and 3,500 enlisted men. NAS Glenview’s first contingency of WAVES arrives. These three enlisted women area joined later in the year by 25 additional WAVES. By 1944 there were 322 contained enlisted women and 12 attached officers.
- 1944: The station is renamed Naval Air Station Glenview.
- 1945: Construction of the U.S. Navy Memorial Chapel begins; it is dedicated on July 1, 1945 (and was renamed the Schram Memorial Chapel in 1970 in honor of Captain Richard Schram.)
- 1946: The station’s war-time status closes. Its function as the Primary Training Command is discontinued and it becomes the Naval Air Reserve Training Command Headquarters.
- 1947: NAS Glenview becomes the home for the Combat Information Center Officers School.
- 1951: NAS Glenview becomes home to the Naval Air Reserve Training Command, the Marine Air Reserve Training Command, and the Marine Air Detachment.
- 1962: Reservists provide support for air operations during the Cuban Missile Crisis and help secure the enforcement of the blockade of Cuba.
- 1971: NAS Glenview is annexed into the Village of Glenview.
- 1973: NAS Glenview serves as an arrival point for prisoners of war returning from Vietnam.
- 1991: NAS Glenview deploys forces to serve in both Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.
- 1993:NAS Glenview is selected for closure by the U.S. Department of Defense.
- 1995: The U.S. Navy hosts a closure ceremony, marking 58 years of support for national defense.
Transformation into The Glen
In July 1993, the U.S. Department of Defense recommended closing of Naval Air Station Glenview -- and two years later, on September 30, 1995, it did.
At the time of the closure, the station consisted of one million cubic yards of concrete, 1.5 miles of runways and 108 U.S. Navy buildings.
The Village accepted the designation of Local Redevelopment Authority and also elected to assume the role as Master Developer. This ensured that all decisions relating to the property would be controlled at the local level, protecting the interests of residents and core jurisdictions.
According to the Mission Statement for redevelopment project, the goal was to “create a lasting source of pride for the community by building quality public amenities, infrastructure, housing plus recreational and job opportunities.”
About The Glen
The Glen consists of almost 1.5 square miles and comprises approximately 15 percent of the land mass in Glenview. Located within the corporate limits of the Village of Glenview (having been annexed in 1971) the site is within Northfield Township and Cook County, and 20 miles north of downtown Chicago. Its name -- "The Glen" -- refers to a comment made by Glenview’s First Village President, Hugh Burnham, who said he had a “wonderful view of the glen” from his home near Shermer and Glenview roads.
To redevelop the air station and integrate it into the rest of Glenview, the Village coordinated a public process to create a reuse plan that was completed in 1995 and updated into a Master Plan in 1998. The Village then assumed the role of Master Developer, building main stem roadways and utilities and preparing the land for sale.
Key documents relating to the redevelopment process