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Salt Lake International Airport

Iconic world map salvaged from floor of old SLC airport

By Alex Cabrero, KSL TV | Posted - Dec. 30, 2020 at 8:03 a.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY – For as beautiful as the new Salt Lake City airport is, it was missing something. Something the old airport had and people loved.

"It's really an iconic piece of art for the airport," said Nancy Volmer, the communication director of Salt Lake City International Airport.

Volmer is talking about the world map that used to be on the floor of the old Terminal 1.

"Meet me at the world map" was a common phrase for loved ones to find each other at the airport.

Others would walk on it slowly while looking at the cities, imagining far-away destinations.

"People coming out with table linens and stemware, sitting on Paris and saying, 'Hey, we had dinner in Paris,'" said Volmer. "Of course, that was before 9/11."

Tighter security and barriers brought in after 9/11 made it more difficult to see or walk on the map.

However, it was still loved by many people traveling through the airport.

"Even missionaries being sent out ... everywhere, and saying, 'This is where you are now, and this is where you are going,'" Volmer said.

So, when the old airport was being torn down, no one thought the map could be saved.

"It's impossible to move it. You would have to move it in the sections where the expansion joints are in. We're talking about something that deep," said Chano Rubalcava while holding his hands several feet apart.

Rubalcava helped place the map in Terminal 1 in 1960.

He did an interview with the airport last year for a story on how the world map was placed.

Rubalcava died shortly after doing the interview, but officials felt he would've been proud to see construction workers found a way to save the world map by moving it exactly how he suggested.

In fact, when the airport announced the map could be saved on their social media pages, people loved it.

"We probably have had more likes and more retweets than on any other social media post," said Volmer. "We're so happy to be able to share it with everyone."

The world map will be in pieces in storage for a few years, but it will be on the floor of Concourse B when Phase Two is done in 2024.

It will be located where people will be able to walk on it once again without security restrictions.

They'll also be able to say, "Let's meet at the map."


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Alex Cabrero


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