Last night’s first 2016 Presidential debate featured many memorable moments (and painful ones) between candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but for infrastructure geeks like us, the likening of LaGuardia Airport to one in a “Third World Country” again by politicians made us laugh. LaGuardia Airport is like the unfashionable, uncool kid in your class that gets bullied and/or targeted for a makeover when convenient by the cool kids. But LaGuardia Airport, named after Fiorello H. LaGuardia, one of New York City’s more beloved mayors, also has some cool history that began way before Vice President Joe Biden or Trump called it Third World.
Here are 10 secrets and fun facts you probably didn’t know about LaGuardia Airport:
10. There is a Lost Airport That Existed Before LaGuardia Airport
Glen Curtiss Airport from a brochure from the Glen Curtiss Flying Service, circa 1929. Image via Jim Freeman.
The Glen H. Curtiss Airport (later North Beach Airport), built in 1929, existed on the same property LaGuardia Airport is on now, but consisted of just three gravel runways and three hangars. The above image from 1931, which appeared on the Facebook group Old Images of New York is accompanied with information from Paul Freeman, including that the runways were illuminated, with the longest runway at 2,300 feet. The waterfront location was chosen to service both “landplanes and seaplanes,” a forerunner to the Marine Air Terminal at LaGuardia. When the city took over Glen H. Curtiss airport, it was renamed New York Municipal Airport–LaGuardia Field, and later LaGuardia Airport in 1939.
See more photos of Glen H. Curtiss/North Beach Airport here.