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The history of The Market Common as it celebrates its 10th anniversary

A photo from the Myrtle Beach Airfield.
A photo from the Myrtle Beach Airfield. Myrtle Beach City Government

The Market Common has officially been around for 10 years.

But the area has changed a lot, starting in 1939 when Myrtle Beach Town Council said they were "in dire need of a modern municipal airport," a plaque located in The Market Common reads.

The town chose to purchase land from Myrtle Beach Farms Company, a partnership between Simeon B. Chapin and the Burroughs brothers, for $35 per acre.

The airport soon became known as the Harrelson Municipal Airport.

A photo of the 354th squadron. Myrtle Beach City Government

Shortly after, in 1940, federal funds were given to the town to help construct two runways, as part of the National Defense Program. The next year, the United States Army Air Corps expressed interest in the site for pilot training.

Finally, in 1941, the War Department acquired just over 6,700 acres, including the airport.

In March 1942, units from the United States Army Air Corps opened operations at the Myrtle Beach Bombing and Gunnery Training Range due to an urgent need for combat air crew training.

Plaques in The Market Common read, "A 'wooden city' soon began to take shape in the form of offices, barracks, a hospital and various maintenance and training facilities."

The 'city' was known as 'Splinter City,' and training started within six months of construction. Once World War II was underway, some of the structures were used to hold German prisoners of war.

It wasn't until 1954 that the airfield was officially acquired by the United States Air Force. During the Korean War, the Air Force wanted to base a fighter wing there.

"An agreement was reached for the joint use of the base for both Air Force and civilian aircraft," a plaque reads.

Times changed on the base again during the Vietnam War. In August 1966 the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base was left with only one tactical fighter squadron after others were deployed to combat.

A photo from the Vietnam War. Myrtle Beach City Government

Between 1980 and 1990 three of the tactical fighter squadrons deployed overseas to Germany, England, Egypt, Korea, Hawaii, Cuba and Puerto Rico to help with training initiatives.

In August 1990, the 354th Tactical fighter Wing was the first ground attack unit deployed in Saudi Arabia in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, plaques read.

Squadrons from the base were involved in the Cold War, the Berlin Crisis, the Cuban Missile Crisis and Desert Storm.

However, due to the National Defense Authorization Act in 1991, the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base was designated for closure. In 1994, the Air Base Redevelopment Authority was established.

In 1996, the authority, along with the City of Myrtle Beach, contracted with Design Works, L.C. to create a master plan for the area. In January 1998, the Urban Village Redevelopment Master Plan was created, showing a desire for housing and jobs not associated with tourism, and to take advantage of existing structures.

A rendering of The Market Common area. Myrtle Beach City Government

Today, The Market Common housing restaurants, shops and apartments.

In order to celebrate the 10th anniversary, a cake and festivities will be held in The Market Common on Saturday. The annual Taste of The Market Common was also held, and will run through Saturday.

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