The Untapped Cities team is headed on a trip soon, which has us thinking about the secrets of the New York City’s essential infrastructure. If you’re flying internationally especially, but also domestically, you’ve definitely experienced the ups and downs of John F. Kennedy Airport. The next time you’re stuck on the line for security or trying to get out of customs, read up on these 10 fun facts. It just might make your trip a little more tolerable.



Back in 2012, the Port Authority gave us solo access to photograph the TWA Flight Center in hopes that coverage could galvanize support for the repurposing of the landmarked terminal at JFK Airport. Now that plans are underway to convert it into a hotel, the Port Authority has partnered with researchers from the University of Central Florida to digitally scan the interior and exterior of the structure in 3D. The scan will begin on Monday and take five days to complete.


Interior Landmarks-NYC-The Bronx-New York School of Interior Design

Yesterday, we showcased the interior landmarks of Manhattan and Brooklyn via a new tool by the New York School of Interior Design (NYSID), launched in conjunction with the school’s exhibit “Rescued, Restored, Reimagined: New York’s Interior Landmarks.” Today, we’re moving on to Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island. While the majority of the 117 interior landmarks are in Manhattan, 8 are in the Bronx, 4 in Queens and 3 in Staten Island–and they’re no less impressive.


This year’s Open House New York is coming up the weekend of October 11th and 12th–and we’re not the only ones getting excited for this year’s events at some of our favorite New York City locations. Every year, the country’s largest architecture and design event puts on an impressive number of great events to educate the public about architecture and design culture in NYC. Our favorite OHNY events are the tours of locations that are usually closed to the public and although not all have been announced quite yet, we’ve highlighted 16 locations so far that you should check out:

We know that some of our favorite locations are being reopened for OHNY tours this year. These include:

1. TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport


Tours of architect Eero Saarinen’s rarely open TWA Flight Center will be given on Saturday, October 11th. Check it out before it gets converted into a hotel. See our interior photographs here.


Leonardo DiCaprio TWA Terminal JFK Airport Catch Me If You Can NYC Untapped Cities

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 JFK Airport NYC 1964 Untapped CitiesTWA 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…)