Airports offer an expression of what a city purports to be:
It’s probably the airport experience on the ground that cements a traveler’s first substantial impression of a city and its merits, whether premature or otherwise. That experience — the flow, sense of efficiency, and all the small details enabled by the airport’s architecture — can be viewed as an expression of what the city stands for, or what it aspires to be. … For those investigating emerging cities and the development of ecosystems to support the cities’ entrepreneurial ambitions, the experience at the airport is almost an initial barometer for things to come.
Of course. If the automobile was primary transportation of a great part of the last century, its expression demonstrated a culture’s ambition. Now, our airports do the same, both from the ground and up in the air.