Mark Byrnes is a senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
The sheer scale of America's busiest airport can hardly be appreciated in your average layover.
If you're an air-traveling American, there's a good chance you've been to Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. But unless Atlanta is a frequent final destination, odds are you've probably only been in the airport for an hour or two at a time, waiting on a connection. A typical passenger's ATL experiences are limited to whatever concourse we're destined for and maybe a quick ride on the Plane Train.
From these experiences alone, it's hard to appreciate just how massive and complex Atlanta's airport truly is. You can sense at least some of it when you're inside, but the totality of the place, which functions in many ways like its own mini-city, needs to be taken in on a larger scale. With that in mind, here's a look from above, via Google Earth, at the more beautiful and strange elements of a typical day at Hartsfield-Jackson International.