Around Town

Open House at the TWA Flight Center

It’s been several years since I last attended any of the openhousenewyork events. I probably would have skipped this year’s weekend as well had it not been for a few interesting places that I’ve been dying to visit and did not require advance reservations.

Despite the rainy Saturday morning, I made a very out-of-the-way trek across town to the airport. Unfortunately, the AirTrain wasn’t running but at least the shuttle buses were free and frequent. It took me a little over an hour to get from home to my destination, Terminal 5, known mainly as the JetBlue terminal.

Head into the terminal, walk past the Baggage Claim area and there, off to the side is a nondescript glass door. Even with printed instructions, people (including me) had a hard time trying to find it. On the top pane of glass a small sign with the OpenHouse logo was the only indication that it was the right place. Once through the door and up the stairs and there it was, the entrance to what I wanted to see:

TWA Flight Center, corridor

Those who’ve seen Catch Me If You Can should be familiar with this location. This corridor leads right into a well-known (at least among architecture and perhaps some history fans) building.

TWA Flight Center

The TWA Flight Center is a thing of beauty saved thanks to preservationists and the city’s landmarking committee. Whenever I’ve gone to the airport in the past, I would pass by the building many times and have always wondered what it looked like on the inside. During previous OHNY weekends, the building was open to the public but required advanced reservations; this year, it was open access so here was my chance to finally explore and see what was inside.

Departures sign and seating

Departures sign

The departures signs still function; they listed the current time and actual flights that were leaving JFK that day.

View from upstairs

Lounge and Cafe Sign

I did not think anyone would dress up, given the wet weather, but these two definitely stood out amongst the crowd (and all the cameras)!

Stylish couple

I was definitely thinking of Mad Men when I saw them; they certainly dressed for the era (the building was dedicated May 28, 1962).

There has been talk of renovating the building as part of some possible future construction for a hotel. It looks beautiful now in its slow decay but I’d love to see it completely restored.

Former commissary

Former lounge area

Former lounge area

At least the restroom wasn’t left to ruin:

Ladies restroom

Even the most functional of rooms were given a design treatment. (And no, I was not the only person taking photos inside the ladies room.)

If the TWA Flight Center is open for next year’s OHNY weekend, it’s well worth the journey to take a look. Hopefully, the weather will be better too!

TWA Flight Center, exterior