McCarran Airport in Las Vegas could soon have a new name

Feb 17, 2021

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Airports, schools and other public buildings throughout the United States often bear the names of politicians and other historical figures.

Many times, those names become synonymous with the buildings they represent — take New York’s JFK Airport, for example — but that doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed to last for eternity.

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Now, as The Washington Post reports, the Clark County Commission voted this week to change the name of Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, removing the reference to former U.S. Senator Patrick McCarran and replacing it with former U.S. Senator Harry M. Reid.

Reid retired as one of Nevada’s two U.S. Senators in 2017, and while it may be common to see buildings named in a prominent figure’s honor after they pass, that certainly isn’t a requirement.

In this particular case, several elements of McCarran’s past have prompted officials to reconsider the airport’s name.

While the effort has been underway for quite some time — University of Nevada professor and historian Michael Green has “joked for some years” that McCarran was “a racist, anti-Semitic, communist witch-hunting lunatic,” according to this 2017 report — the movement to replace McCarran had previously fizzled.

The shift from McCarran to Reid won’t present nearly as many logistical challenges as, say, renaming JFK Airport, given that New York’s primary air hub bears the IATA code “JFK” and Las Vegas has a far more evergreen “LAS.”

Still, if the FAA approves the transformation, it’ll take some time to update signage around Las Vegas, and adjust the endless references to McCarran Airport you’ll find throughout the commercial aviation system and the internet, including right here, at TPG.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.

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