Date: Dec 17, 2002
Press Release Number: 140-2002
Port Authority officials, Newark Mayor Sharpe James, Elizabeth Mayor Christopher Bollwage, and other officials today rededicated the Art Deco landmark Building One at Newark Liberty International Airport, commemorating the rich history of an airport with an innovative legacy that spans eight decades of air travel. Today’s event took place on the 99th anniversary of the first flight by the Wright brothers.
Building One, which was originally dedicated by aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart in 1935, served as the first passenger terminal in the nation. The building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1979.
A recent runway extension project that placed the building within a restricted safety zone forced the Port Authority to move the building, creating an opportunity for the agency to restore the structure and adapt it for reuse. In 2000 and 2001, Building One was separated into three sections, lifted by hydraulic jacks, placed atop dollies, and moved about 3/4 of a mile to its present location. Today, Building One houses the airport’s professional and police staff, aircraft rescue and firefighting equipment, and airport operations equipment, as well as a display of historic photos, artifacts and memorabilia.
New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey said, \"From its beginnings on 68 acres of marshland nearly 75 years ago, Newark Liberty International Airport has grown into a world-class transportation facility that is an integral part of New Jersey’s economy, providing tens of thousands of jobs and moving millions of passengers and hundreds of thousands of tons in cargo each year.\"
Port Authority Chairman Jack G. Sinagra said, \"By rededicating the historic Building One, we recognize Newark Liberty International Airport’s significant role in the history of U.S. aviation. This airport’s remarkable past now meets the promise of its future, and Building One, which stood here when little else existed, continues to stand as a proud symbol of aviation history and serve as an important centerpiece of this great airport.\"
Port Authority Vice Chairman Charles A. Gargano said, \"Building One is another excellent example of how the Port Authority’s $15 billion airport redevelopment program continues to deliver the goods. The $3.8 billion reinvestment at Newark Liberty International Airport has provided the traveling public with enhancements that include improved terminals, AirTrain Newark, new parking garages, and more efficient roadways.\"
Port Authority Executive Director Joseph J. Seymour said, \"When it became clear several years ago that Building One could no longer be occupied because runway improvements would put the building in a restricted path, the Port Authority seized the chance to readapt Building One to its present use. In doing so, the agency again demonstrated its commitment to protecting and preserving the public’s assets while enhancing the role of this historic building.\"
Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Michael R. DeCotiis said, \"The recently signed agreement between the Port Authority and the city of Newark that extended the lease of the airport to 2065 ensures that Building One and the rest of this historic facility will continue to be a vibrant, vital part of our economy, providing widespread benefits for people throughout the region.\"
Port Authority Aviation Director William R. DeCota said, \"Newark Liberty International Airport’s place in aviation history will always be assured. Much of what we take for granted at airports today, such as air traffic control towers and lighted runways, have their origins here. In many ways, Building One is a microcosm of that history. Restoring the landmark structure and returning it to an important airport use reflects how the agency is respectful of its past and dedicated to its future.\"
As part of the ceremony, Newark Liberty International Airport General Manager Susan Baer honored the late William \"Whitey\" Conrad with a special presentation to his family. Mr. Conrad was the first aviation employee hired by the City of Newark for its new airport, and was the nation’s first air traffic controller. He was enshrined in the New Jersey Aviation Hall of Fame in 1990.
For many years, Building One was the centerpiece of an airport that played an important role in U.S. aviation history. Aviation firsts that took place at Newark Airport include:
• The nation’s first passenger terminal.
• The nation’s first air traffic control tower, which is still housed in Building One and has been restored.
• The nation’s first paved runway.
• The nation’s first runway with lighting, which permitted nighttime operations.
• The nation’s first airport weather station.
By 1939, Newark Airport was the nation’s busiest, handling 481,000 passengers – a huge number then, but less than 2 percent of the 30.5 million passengers the airport handled last year. Millions of passengers used Building One as a terminal in the 1930s, 1940s and the early 1950s before the building was retired from service as a passenger terminal in 1953. Today, Building One ushers in a new era in airport and aviation history, assuming a role it will fulfill for many years to come.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates some of the busiest and most important transportation links in the region. Major facilities include John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia and Teterboro airports; the George Washington Bridge; the Lincoln and Holland tunnels; the three bridges between Staten Island and New Jersey; the PATH rapid-transit system; the Downtown Manhattan Heliport; Port Newark; the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal; the Howland Hook Marine Terminal on Staten Island; the Brooklyn Piers/Red Hook Container Terminal; and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan. The agency is financially self-supporting and receives no tax revenue from either state.
NEWARK LIBERTY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT TIMELINE
1927: Newark Mayor Thomas L. Raymond announces a new airport will be built near Newark Bay at a cost of $6 million.
1928: Construction begins on Newark Airport on 68 acres of swamp. The first flights take place later the same year. Construction is completed in 1931. The airport features the first hard-surfaced runway in the United States.
1930: The first all-passenger air service to the West Coast is established. Flights take 36 hours to complete. The same year, the first air traffic control tower in the United States is established at Newark Airport, as is the country’s first airport weather station. By the fall, as much as one-third of all air traffic in the world passes through Newark Airport.
1935: The first passenger terminal at Newark Airport, Building 51, opens. It is dedicated by aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart.
1939: The U.S. military begins using the airport as a staging area and will use the facility throughout World War II.
1946: The airport reopens for commercial business following the war.
1948: The Port of New York Authority (later renamed The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey) enters into a lease with the city of Newark to develop and operate the airport.
1952: The country’s first runway lighting is installed at Newark Airport, allowing nighttime operations.
1953: A new $8.5 million terminal is opened at Newark Airport.
1959: Newark Airport opens its Air Cargo Center.
1963: A construction project begins to expand the airport by 325 acres.
1973: Two triple-tiered terminals (A and B) open.
1988: Terminal C opens.
1991: Construction begins on the airport monorail.
1996: The region’s first airport monorail service begins.
2000: The Port Authority begins moving historic Building 51 (which will be renamed Building One). The building, which weighs more than 7,000 tons, is hydraulically lifted, placed atop dollies and rolled about 3/4 of a mile. It represents t