"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Where & When: Game 43

Ahh, welcome back to another round of Where & When, the challenge that just won’t go away; sort of like that phantom vibration in your pocket when it feels like your cell phone is ringing, but it’s actually on the charger, so you realize you’re just nuts.  I dunno about you, but I’m feeling rather optimal about our starting pitching and I hope Jeter has something better to offer than what he’s shown so far, but that’s not what you came here to read.  You want to know what kind of old, fancy and probably gone forever buildings I’ve managed to dig up and show you.  Well, you might be right about that, so let’s cut the chit-chat and get straight to the point:

Where & When Game 43

If you’re older than me and you’ve had to get around the country or the world, you may have come through here more than once.    The place where this interior was located was given a new name a year after this picture was taken; in fact this is likely pictures of the finished product as it opened the same year.  There are quite a few interesting stories to go along with it, so you’ll get a bonus scoop of ice cream if you can tell one, but first you have to know where this is and when the photo was taken.  Do that and you’ll get your favorite root beer (since I’ll venture that we’ve gotten past the worst of winter at this point), and the runners-up will share our favorite cream soda.

So, have at it ladies and gentlemen, feel free to leave your answers below and we’ll discuss later in the afternoon or evening, depending on my suddenly busy schedule (the studying paid off).  I hope to do this again this week, but if not I’ll see you in the comments on the other posts.  And no peeking at the photo credit!

[Photo Credit: Shorpy/Juniper Gallery]


1 Alex Belth   ~  Mar 18, 2014 8:42 am

Are we at the airport? Methinks we are. Also, Shorpy is such a great site. Dope post, Will.

2 RIYank   ~  Mar 18, 2014 8:53 am

Must be JFK, earlier known as 'Idlewild'. So 1963, since it was re-named after the assassination.

3 RIYank   ~  Mar 18, 2014 8:54 am

Okay, that's really weird. My guess is held up for moderation. Hmmm.

4 RIYank   ~  Mar 18, 2014 8:54 am

JFK (Idlewild) 1963.

5 RIYank   ~  Mar 18, 2014 8:54 am

Nope, it didn't like that one either! Very very odd. Try this:


6 RIYank   ~  Mar 18, 2014 8:55 am

Aha. So it doesn't like Kennedy's initials???

7 RIYank   ~  Mar 18, 2014 8:55 am


And 1963, that's when it was re-named.

8 RIYank   ~  Mar 18, 2014 9:04 am

Is it the Eero Saarinen TWA Flight Center? I can't find this picture, but it certainly could be a Saarinen building. (I was in Helsinki three weeks ago, believe me, I know.)

I'm older than you, but I don't believe I've ever been in that space. (But I am old enough to have flown on TWA, though my parents preferred Pan Am.)

9 GaryfromChevyChase   ~  Mar 18, 2014 9:14 am

I'm guessing the old TWA terminal at Idlewild. I'd say 1962, the year it openned (I was there for my first international flight - to Puerto Rico).

10 RIYank   ~  Mar 18, 2014 9:19 am

For some reason I still haven't found that exact shot, but now I'm sure it's the TWA Flight Center, completed in 1962, as a part of what was then officially called "New York International Airport" ('Idlewild' was not the official name, just what people called it because of the resort and golf club of that name next door).

It was obsoleted instantly by the fact that the building couldn't accommodate a 747, and over time the accretion of updates clotted Saarinen's design. But it is undergoing renovation now, and there was an open house for the partly finished product a couple of years ago (see this NYT article).

Very cool. When I was a kid, flying was still a bit glamorous -- not like in the 50's I guess, but it was a big deal. The renovated TWA center captures the feel.

Jet Blue just ain't the same.

11 RIYank   ~  Mar 18, 2014 9:21 am

Oh for god's sake. Another 'awaiting moderation'. No idea why -- I didn't include the presidential initials.

Gary, Puerto Rico isn't an international flight. Are you mixing up memories? (My family used to go to Puerto Rico, too -- my dad scorned Florida in the winter.)

12 RIYank   ~  Mar 18, 2014 9:22 am

Oh, thanks Belth, I guess you cleared it. WTF?

13 rbj   ~  Mar 18, 2014 10:46 am

Definitely JFK. Very clean so I'm guessing the picture was taken before it was opened, [9] did not know that that was the official first name, so 1962?

14 GaryfromChevyChase   ~  Mar 18, 2014 12:44 pm

RIYank - I know that PR is not officially international - but I think we flew out of there. I am certain that I remember being there (overnight because the radar went down) when I flew to Israel in late June 1967.

15 Chyll Will   ~  Mar 18, 2014 3:57 pm

The answer as gathered is: The TWA Flight Center, c.1962 at JFK Airport, back when it was known as the New York International Airport, or more commonly as Idlewild after the nearby golf course/country club. The architect, Eero Saarinen, died the year before the terminal was dedicated and won the AIA Gold Medal posthumously. Saarinen was also a furniture designer who won awards for his designs based on organic architecture before designing buildings and monuments, including the GM Technical Center and the St. Louis "Gateway To The West" arch; which is smaller inside than it looks outside, but has a nice view from the top. Among others, of course.

The terminal operated from 1962 to 2001; an addition was made almost immediately to accommodate the new Boeing 747 jets, but TWA, which struggled through the 90s was eventually absorbed by American Airlines and during this time the terminal fell into disrepair. It was eventually shut down in October 2001 and lay dormant until 2008 when it reopened (minus peripheral portions of the building) as part of the new JetBlue international terminal, collectively known as Terminal 5. During it's dormancy, the original terminal hosted a multinational art exhibition and was successfully added to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of the 11 Most Endangered Places in America. Also, the airport scenes for the movie Catch Me If You Can were filmed there, not to mention that during it's heyday, the British Invasion by The Beatles began here.

There has been much discussion during the years as to what will eventually happen with the facility, from tearing it down to turning it into a hotel among other things (not happening in either case), but the latest news is that the Port Authority, which oversees the facility, will open it to the public, but it's not announced as what it will be. I'm willing to bet that there will be a lot more films and TV episodes shot here. 

So there is the skinny; if you want to learn more I suggest starting here and checking their references as well. It will be interesting to see what this becomes (I'm not that impressed with what has been built around it, though the AirTrain makes it more convenient to get around.

Okay, so this is a bit technical; essentially GaryfromChevyChase got the right location and the year; RIYank had the official name right but was off by a year, so I have to give first prize to Gary. Kinda stinks after all the effort that RI gave to answer it, but the rule is first with both right location and year. But you both get a bonus scoop for your stories, so there is that. We shall raise our mugs of cream in your honor, sirs.

Hopefully I'll get a chance to return with another game this week; in the meantime, enjoy!

16 RIYank   ~  Mar 18, 2014 4:44 pm

Great picture, anyway.

(Your own photo credit says c. 1964, so maybe nobody wins!)

17 RIYank   ~  Mar 18, 2014 4:45 pm

And it totally reminds me of Catch Me If You Can, which I loved.

18 GaryfromChevyChase   ~  Mar 18, 2014 5:28 pm

Happy to share the prize :)

19 The Mick536   ~  Mar 18, 2014 8:33 pm

Never saw it look so formal. Used the terminal many times. Missed a few recent chances to visit.

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