Marine Air Terminal Rededicated on Anniversary of Airport’s First Scheduled Flight
Officials today celebrated the 65th anniversary of LaGuardia Airport’s first scheduled flight by rededicating the historic Marine Air Terminal, an Art Deco landmark that recently underwent a $6.5 million rehabilitation.
Today’s rededication took place 65 years to the day that a TWA DC-3 with a seating capacity of 32 passengers flew from Chicago to Queens, N.Y. – the first scheduled flight ever at LaGuardia Airport.
By the following summer, 250 daily landings and takeoffs were the norm. Today, the airport averages more than 1,000 flights a day and about 23 million passengers a year.
New York Governor George E. Pataki said, “For 65 years, LaGuardia Airport has been many things for many people. In 1940, brave aviation pioneers flew 26 hours to reach Europe from LaGuardia. Later, ‘Flying Boats’ carried passengers across the country and enthralled crowds of onlookers at the Marine Air Terminal. Today, travelers at LaGuardia take one-hour shuttles to business meetings in cities hundreds of miles away, or come here to fly home for the holidays. It’s safe to say that this airport’s legacy is secure. Named for Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, a New York legend, the airport has become a legend in its own right.”
Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia said, “As the steward of this great airport, the Port Authority recognizes its responsibility to preserve LaGuardia’s record of accomplishment and achievement, and also to make certain that the airport remains a safe and secure environment for travelers. The Port Authority and its private partners have invested more than $830 million to expand and modernize the airport’s Central Terminal Building, reconfigure and widen roadways, and improve runways and taxiways. And as demonstrated by our Board’s recent $15 million authorization to study further modernization of the Central Terminal Building, we expect to continue making investments to ensure a strong and prosperous outlook for LaGuardia Airport.”
Port Authority Vice Chairman Charles A. Gargano said. “As we celebrate this historic milestone, we also should celebrate LaGuardia’s significant contribution to our local and state economies. More than 9,000 people are employed at LaGuardia, which contributes $6.1 billion in economic activity to our metropolitan region. Commercial activity at the airport also supports more than 63,000 regional jobs generating $2.1 billion in annual wages. That’s the sort of success that makes a real difference in the lives of New Yorkers, and we are committed to a future at LaGuardia that promises more jobs and even greater economic strength.”
Port Authority Executive Director Kenneth J. Ringler Jr. said, “Visiting New York for the first time is an experience no one ever forgets, and for countless millions of people, that special experience has taken place at LaGuardia Airport. We are proud of our record at LaGuardia for so many reasons, but one issue in particular has improved the travel experience for our customers in the 21st century: the unprecedented step we took in October 2000 of issuing a moratorium on new flights to combat growing delays. We continue to work closely with the Federal Aviation Administration to develop a long-term solution that promises a stable future of efficient operations at one of our country’s top airport destinations.”
Today’s celebration highlighted the airport’s Marine Air Terminal, which is closely tied to LaGuardia Airport’s early history. Pan American World Airways inaugurated trans-Atlantic service from the terminal on March 30, 1940, carrying nine passengers aboard a Boeing 314 “Flying Boat” bound for the Azores. The aircraft, which used Bowery Bay as their runway, became popular attractions, drawing millions of visitors every year.
The rehabilitation project at the Marine Air Terminal, which began early last year, included restoration of the terra cotta friezes of flying fish – representing the famous seaplanes – on the exterior of the building. The project also features new parapet walls, new windows, a new roofing system and replacement of the exterior masonry. Significant portions of the work were performed at night and during times when the terminal was largely inactive, to minimize any inconvenience to the traveling public.
A rehabilitation of the building’s interior, completed in the 1980s, restored the 12-foot-high, 235-foot-long mural “Flight” by James Brooks. The largest and last mural commissioned by the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression, the mural encircling the interior wall of the terminal’s rotunda tells the story of human flight, from Greek mythology through the mid-20th century.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates many of the busiest and most important transportation links in the region. They include John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia and Teterboro airports; AirTrain JFK and AirTrain Newark; the George Washington Bridge; the Lincoln and Holland tunnels; the three bridges between Staten Island and New Jersey; the PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) rapid-transit rail system; the Port Authority-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 also owns the 16-acre World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan.
The Port Authority is financially self-supporting and receives no tax revenue from either state.