Catch Me If You Can, based on the true story of Frank Abegnale, Jr., follows the young con artist from New Rochelle to New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, New Orleans and all the way to France. After running away from home, seventeen-year-old Frank poses as a pilot and flies around the country with Pan-Am before deciding to become a doctor, then a lawyer before being caught. He becomes a master check forger starting with the technique of taking the little Pan-Am stickers on toy airplanes and repasting them onto checks.
While the story is captivating and the cinematography is excellent, the airport scenes bring up some questions that aren’t addressed in the film. In the scene pictured above, when Frank reports for duty as a Pan-Am copilot, we see him walking through Eero Saarinen’s arrestingly beautiful building at what was then called Idlewild Airport. But we know that the Pan-Am terminal was located in the Worldport building, not the TWA Flight Center. It doesn’t make sense for Frank to report for duty at the TWA counter, unless he was catching a ride via TWA, which he did do at Orly Airport in the opening of the book. (more…)
TWA Terminal at JFK Airport circa 1964 via Flickr user amphalon. The photograph was taken by Balthazar Korab, a Hungarian-born architectural photographer who documented the work of Eero Saarinen.
What we now know as John F. Kennedy International Airport was constructed as Idlewild Airport in 1942 on top of the Idlewild golf course in Queens. The project was undertaken to relieve LaGuardia Airport (built in 1939) of some of its traffic, as it quickly became too crowded. The original plans called for a modest 1,000 acre airport, but by the time construction was finished, the airport had grown to 4,930 acres with over thirty miles of roadway. Commercial flights began in July 1948.
In 1943, the airport was actually renamed Major General Alexander E. Anderson Airport after the Queens resident who had commanded the Federalized National Guard and died in 1942. In 1948, the City Council renamed it New York International Airport, Anderson Field, but people continued to call it Idlewild. (more…)
We’ve been actively following the developments at the TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport ever since the National Trust asked us to highlight the Eero Saarinen designed building in early 2012 in hopes of spurring the adaptive reuse of the landmarked terminal. The terminal has been in the news a lot this month, with news in the New York Post that Andre Balazs of the Standard was transforming it into a hotel called The Standard, Flight Center.
In our behind-the-scenes look inside the TWA Flight Center last year, we focused on the architecture and preservation efforts for the landmarked building. One thing which was pointed out by a reader, was the high concentration of asbestos in ceiling. Another reader recently wrote us reminding us of this sobering detail of the iconic building:
Worldport Terminal (former Pan-AM Terminal) at JFK Airport
The crown jewel of John F. Kennedy Airport’s architecture is undeniably the landmarked TWA Flight Center, but other Modernist buildings at the airport have not been preserved or will soon be lost. While the public is undeniably drawn by a personal connection to these locations, or the history that has taken place within their walls, the criteria for preservation requires more.
On our behind-the-scenes visit of the TWA Flight Center in 2012, we dubbed it “a cathedral to aviation.” The Eero Saarinen-designed terminal was saved from the wrecking ball in part through the efforts of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The organization later highlighted the terminal as one of the 24 most inspiring preservation stories in the 24 years of its 11 Most Endangered Places List.
After our exclusive photo shoot inside the TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport last year, we’ve gotten a lot of inquiries as to how to visit or rent the space in our Untapped Mailbag. For visitors, the easiest way is to attend an event by a non-profit partner, such as Openhousenewyork, who just had a members-only launch reception in the terminal this past Friday and has hosted visits during OHNY Weekend in October for the couple of years. Organizations such as Openhousenewyork, The Municipal Art Society, Docomomo, New York Landmarks Conservancy, New York State Historical Preservation Office, and educational organizations are also permitted to host tours. The Port Authority also leases the space per-diem for commercial film (like Catch Me If You Can) and advertising shoots. You can’t rent it for private reasons though, like a wedding or a birthday, all requests the Port Authority has received before.