Open House new York - TWA Flight Center
JFK Airport Terminal 5 Travel Blog› entry 739 of 1090 › view all entries
John F. Kennedy International Airport, or in IATA code simply "JFK" is for the majority of (at least international) visitors to New York City the port of entry. It is one of the busiest airports in the USA and the 16th in the world, two steps below Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (source).
Long ago, New Jersey's Newark Airport was the only airport for New York City, later on Floyd Bennett Field was constructed in Brooklyn (very close to the site of the current JFK by the way, see here).
When LaGuardia reached its capacity limits a new airport was build called Idlewild Airport, named after the golf course that it replaced. Before the airport opened it was already renamed to Major General Alexander E. Anderson Airport. Twenty years later, when president Kennedy was assassinated, the airport was named after the unfortunate Kennedy.
From the opening of the airport in 1948 until 1957 the traffic was processed in one central building, to be used by all the airlines. This did not work well, airline managers had a good sense of planning an objected to this way of airport management.
One of the last terminals to be opened was Trans World Airlines' TWA Flight Center, in 1962. Being the last one it could be the best of all. And it certainly made an effort to do so.
Giants come and giants go. Both TWA and its competitor Pan Am got in financial trouble.
Despite being vacant for many years TWA Flight Center was not demolished, like many of the other iconic terminals of that era. In 1994 New York City had designated it a historic landmark, and in 2005 the National Park Service added the terminal to the National Register of Historic Places. But, JFK is an airport and not a museum, so it was unavoidable that a new Terminal was constructed nearby.
And today, as a part of the Open House New York weekend the terminal was opened once again. Joost, a friend from NL, had asked me some time ago if I knew if the terminal still existed triggered my interest for the Flight Center. Some weeks ago when I traveled to NL I actually tried to find the terminal, that is why a made this blog entry near Terminal 5). I did find it, but it was closed and dark. So, now knowing it would be open I made my way to JFK, and again to Terminal 5.
I entered the terminal via the huge corridors that originally led to the jet satellites and stepped into the terminal like I just arrived from a flight into New York. The terminal was packed! Not only regular visitors like me, but the personnel of JFK also seized the opportunity to look around. Some former TWA employees walked around in their original uniforms. It all gave very real view. Not everything was open yet. And the restaurants and lounges were empty. Only the seats and sofas with worn out leather were there.
The VIP lounge looked still cozy, even when the bar was empty. Leaving that lounge I discovered a door leading to the former luggage belts was open. All kind of officials and security persons were walking there as well as many other visitors. So I stepped into that wing, ending up in the former Tax Free Shop, some offices, and at the luggage belts. This looked not official but it was really great to walk around. Well, it turned out we were off limits and were more or less kindly requested to leave that part of the terminal.
I also looked at the outside of the terminal and walked around it. Again it did not look official but despite the presence of many airport police, security guards, etc. nobody stopped us. This was really Open House.
Joost later told me that he had traveled via the terminal a few times and sent me some of his pictures. These and many of my 2011 pictures are below!