Accomplishments and Records

Take to the Skies With These Fun Facts About Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport


Anyone who travels by airplane in the United States will inevitably travel through Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Although millions pass through O’Hare every year, few take the time to contemplate some of the fun facts about this gateway to the world.

  • The 7,600-acre airport started in 1942 as a factory for Douglas C-54 aircraft during World War II.
  • 83.4 million individuals passed through O’Hare in 2018. That comes out to approximately 157 per minute.
  • 2,400 aircraft come through the airport each day. That’s three aircraft every two minutes.
  • In 2019 O’Hare was classified as the busiest airport in the United States, in terms of total flights, surpassing Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson-Jackson International Airport for the first time since 2014.
  • In terms of passengers, O’Hare ranks as the third busiest airport in the USA, right behind Atlanta and Los Angeles.
  • Originally named Orchard Field Airport, it was renamed in 1949 in honor of navy pilot Edward “Butch” O’Hare. The airport IATA code, ORD, is a reflection of its original name.
  • The airport now features self-cleaning toilet seats. The seats have a plastic covering . Waving your hand over the electric eye will cause it to roll out a fresh seat cover for your use. (AUTHOR’S NOTE: These never seem to be operational in any of the bathrooms I have visited, but the airport is quite proud of this feature.)
  • O’Hare International Airport would be primarily located outside of Chicago City limits if not for a small, isthmus-like strip running along Foster Avenue. This narrow, 200-foot-wide extension of Chicago’s boundaries allows the operation of O’Hare—and its sizable tax revenues—to fall under the oversight of City Hall.
  • O’Hare is the largest seller of hotdogs in the United States. 725,000 hotdogs are consumed at the airport each year. That’s more than the Los Angeles and New York’s LaGuardia airports, combined.

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Read more fun facts about aviation.

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