Terminal Cool / Terminal Guay

La versión español está después de la versión inglés.

I DEPARTED JOHN F. Kennedy International Airport late Friday evening. Traffic in and out of the city lately is usually a nightmare. So, to avoid the worst during rush hour, I headed to the airport in the early afternoon to do some more sightseeing.

The TWA Flight Center, designed by architect Eero Saarinen (who also designed the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri), opened in 1962. At the time, John F. Kennedy was still president and the airport was called Idlewild.

My sister, Dale, flew TWA on her first trip to Europe (in 1969 or 1970). To me, it was the epitome of cool. I flew from there once in the early ’70s and saw many friends off while sitting in the upstairs bar. The terminal sat empty for nearly 20 years because it couldn’t support the size of modern aircraft. I worried it would be razed, but it’s found a brand new life in its modernist style.

I was leaving from Terminal 7. Terminal 5 is the home of JetBlue Airlines. Connecting to Terminal 5 in the former TWA Flight Center is the new TWA Hotel. I checked my bag and headed over to Airtrain to check things out. It’s a short train ride and a bit of a hike. I didn’t ask to see a hotel room (they’re done of course in ’60s style), nor did I visit the rooftop infinity pool. Had I made a reservation I could have gone for a swim.


SALÍ DEL AEROPUERTO Internacional John F. Kennedy el viernes por la noche. El tráfico dentro y fuera de la ciudad últimamente suele ser una pesadilla. Entonces, para evitar lo peor durante la hora pico, me dirigí al aeropuerto a primera hora de la tarde y realicé más visitas turísticas.

El Centro de Vuelos TWA, diseñado por el arquitecto Eero Saarinen (quien también diseñó el Gateway Arch en St. Louis, Missouri), abrió sus puertas en 1962. En el momento, John F. Kennedy todavía era presidente y el aeropuerto se llamaba Idlewild.

Mi hermana, Dale, voló TWA en su primer viaje a Europa (en 1969 o 1970). Para mí, fue el epítome de genial. Volé desde allí una vez a principios de los años 70 y vi a muchos amigos mientras estaba sentado en el bar de arriba. La terminal estuvo vacía durante casi 20 años porque no podía soportar el tamaño de los aviones modernos. Me preocupaba que fuera arrasada, pero ha encontrado una nueva vida en su estilo modernista.

Salía de la Terminal 7. La Terminal 5 es el hogar de JetBlue Airlines. Adjunto a la Terminal 5 en el antiguo Centro de Vuelo TWA es el nuevo Hotel TWA. Revisé mi bolso y me dirigí a Airtrain para verlo. No pedí ver una habitación de hotel (lo hicieron, por supuesto, al estilo de los años 60), ni visité la piscina de borde infinito en la azotea. Si hubiera hecho una reserva podría haberme dado un baño.

Walking from Airtrain to Terminal 5 (JetBlue).
Caminando desde Airtrain hasta la Terminal 5 (JetBlue).
A view from Terminal 5.
Una vista de la Terminal 5.
The office of Howard Hughes, founder of TWA.
La oficina de Howard Hughes, fundador de TWA.
One of the tubes that used to lead to the gates and now lead to Terminal 5. Identical red carpet (but it’s not good for wheeling modern luggage.)
Uno de los tubos que solía conducir a las puertas y ahora conducen a la terminal 5. Alfombra roja idéntica (pero no es buena para transportar equipaje moderno).
A cocktail lounge occupies a retrofitted Lockheed Constellation L-1649A Starliner from 1956.
Un salón de cócteles ocupa un Lockheed Constellation L-1649A Starliner de 1956.
I remember sitting in the sunken lounge with my sister, Dale (and the rest of the family). Yes, even this was an emotional trip down memory lane (um… memory runway).
A wedding was scheduled outside Friday evening. Wedding party members began to arrive while I was there; they were decked out in ’60s style.

Recuerdo estar sentado en el salón hundido con mi hermana, Dale (y el resto de la familia). Sí, incluso este fue un viaje emocional por el carril de la memoria (um … pista de memoria).
Se programó una boda afuera el viernes por la noche. Los miembros de la fiesta de bodas comenzaron a llegar mientras yo estaba allí; estaban decorados al estilo de los años 60.
I had many drinks with friends in the upstairs cocktail lounge.
Tomé muchas copas con amigos en el salón de cócteles de arriba.
What they were wearing when we first traveled.
Lo que llevaban puesto cuando viajamos por primera vez.
Drive-up entrance. Valet attendants wear retro groundcrew jumpsuits.
Entrada de acceso. Los asistentes de valet usan monos de vuelo retro del equipo de tierra.
Hotel reception, which used to be airline check-in.
Recepción del hotel, que solía ser el check-in de la aerolínea.
The food court, also used to be airline check-in.
El patio de comidas, también solía ser el check-in de la aerolínea.
Back to the Future.
Regreso al Futuro.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

29 thoughts on “Terminal Cool / Terminal Guay”

    1. Mistress Maddie,
      I still love it and it brought back great memories. Given the amount of time I had at the airport, I could have gotten a day rate and seen it all. Maybe next time. The infinity pool overlooking the runway seems especially fun.

  1. Wow! I had no idea this existed. Very cool, indeed!
    Have you ever been to, or up inside of, the Gateway Arch, Mitchell?

    1. Bob,
      I agree. It’s an odd mix of what we thought the future would look like and going back to another time.

  2. like, groovy, man! thanks for sharing those pix, otherwise I would never get to visit.

    Eero Saarinen – also designed dulles airport in dc. I see many similarities between the two buildings.

  3. Wow!, I have only flown through JFK once, what a mess. But the hotel looks amazing, glad they saved the building.

    1. David,
      Airtrain is great… and the airport does have its bright spots but not easy to travel through… nor very welcoming often.

    1. Debra,
      I saw a newspaper article several months ago and was happy to get to see it. I think they did a great job. So much fun to explore.

  4. I LOVE this place already! I take it this place is privately run and not operated by any airport authority. A living museum.

    1. Jim,
      MCR, a hotel developer, is the primary owner I think. JetBlue is a minority partner. It’s really worth a visit. Next time I have the chance I’m going to check out the airplane bar!

  5. As I scrolled through the very “cool” pictures I had a Montreal Expo ’67 flashback….this all reminded me of that period too. Certainly loved this post Mitch! I recently finished reading an architectural book in which they mentioned the architect Eero Saarinen. I have always had a certain fascination with mid-modern century anything and this post was like icing on the proverbial cake. Thanks again.

    1. Ron,
      If you like mid-century modern you’d love Palm Springs, California. I never got to see Expo ‘67 but I remember all the photos I saw at the time. Exactly right.

  6. What a great idea/time to spend before you flew out. Everytime I flew into JFK it was always a mess, didn’t even know about this.
    I have to admit this is my kind of time. So much to love plus all that went along with it. I like the Mid Century modern look also the International style. From Mcintosh to Eichler. I always wanted to live in an Eichler Home when I lived in California.

    1. Parsnip,
      I too love this style. Then again I love a lot of styles. JFK Airport can feel so overwhelming and unwelcoming.

  7. It’s always good when a special piece of historic architecture can be saved and used. I can see that the old building can not function as a modern terminal in today’s overcrowded, security laden travel environment, but it’s commendable that has been allowed serve as a kind of “lobby” to the modern madness of air travel. I’m glad you took the time to visit and share photos!

    1. Walt the Fourth,
      You’re so right about the old terminal. It closed simply because it couldn’t handle the big planes, but it now couldn’t handle anything about contemporary travel and security needs.

    1. larrymuffin:
      Unlike today, but Vietnam War era, major civil rights battles. Not a great time to revisit really.

  8. I love that terminal – it was the first one I took a flight to London from with TWA. And I recall sleeping overnight there once when my flight arrived late from the UK and I missed my connection to Toronto. It had style and grace – but then damn it so did airlines.

    Thank you for another wonderful photo essay.

    1. Willym,
      Flying was definitely different back then. Less technology but bigger seats, more leg room, and lots of service! And airport security?

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