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There are those moments which form the core of your urban memory. For some, they serve as reminders of why they left everything to move to New York City. For others they reinforce why they never left. As an architecture buff, my moments all have to do with the incredible spaces that capture the spirit of our city.

On a scouting trip, I had another one of those transcendent moments.  I was on a one-on-one tour of the TWA Flight Center at John F. Kennedy Airport. The terminal was open to the public for Open House New York last year, but I’ll be showing you some spots that were off limits. Standing alone in the terminal lobby will go down as one of my top 10 NYC moments.

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Every curve and detail of the TWA flight center was thought out by architect Eero Saarinen, with the terminal being one of his last works, completed posthumously. The National Trust for Historic Preservation was a partner in the effort to save it from the wrecking ball in 2003, and is now highlighting the terminal as one of the 24 most inspiring preservation stories in the 24 years of its 11 Most Endangered Historic Places List.

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More than designing space, Saarinen clearly conceived of different scenes and experiences that would take place as one moved through the terminal, despite its free-form design. This is not out-of-the-box architecture—upon visiting in the present, you feel transported not only to another time, but also to an ethereal place. This was the cathedral to aviation, if there ever was one, and you feel through the design the pride and optimism the aviation industry had then.

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That sense of pride still remains today, if you look closely, as the terminal sits empty awaiting approval for adaptive reuse. Upwards of 14 agencies are involved in the preservation and adaptation of the flight center, which will likely become a hotel (new wings will be built for the  rooms so the original space will not be tampered with). James Steven, manager of JFK Physical Plant and Redevelopment tells me of the painstaking renovation he has overseen with Beyer Blinder Belle, down to the details of each circular tile and the years of sourcing materials all over the globe.

It is clear that James and those that maintain the building feel an immense sense of pride about the flight center, and are in fact rather in awe of it. “It’s a beautiful building, isn’t it?” one of the men said to me as I took the photographs. This speaks to the power of architecture, as the three of us from different backgrounds felt simultaneously moved in the hallowed spaces of the building.

TWA Flight Center_JFK Airport_New York City_Untapped Cities-36The main lounge was rebuilt according to Saarinen’s original design. During the use of the terminal, it had been replaced by ticket counters. The men in the photograph are scouting for illegal taxis hustling unsuspecting tourists.

TWA Flight Center_JFK Airport_New York City_Untapped Cities-22Leonardo DiCaprio ran down this flight tube in the film Catch Me If You Can.

TWA Flight Center_JFK Airport_New York City_Untapped Cities-27A framed, spontaneous moment–one of my favorite spots in the flight center.

TWA Flight Center_JFK Airport_New York City_Untapped Cities-29The still-lit Duty Free sign, around which are the baggage carousels. This whole area is off-limits.

TWA Flight Center_JFK Airport_New York City_Untapped Cities-24James calls this the Austin Powers lounge, which was inaccessible during OHNY. Saarinen designed all the decor, harkening back to his start in the furniture business.

TWA Flight Center_JFK Airport_New York City_Untapped Cities-25Shelves for magazines and newspapers were built into the furniture (on the right).  

TWA Flight Center_JFK Airport_New York City_Untapped Cities-8A James Bond-like spot in the First Class lounge

TWA Flight Center_JFK Airport_New York City_Untapped Cities-7Another view of the First Class lounge. The view once opened out to the jetbridges and runways but many new terminals have been built at JFK since, lessening the impact of the view.

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TWA Flight Center_JFK Airport_New York City_Untapped Cities-33A modern upgrade, it shows current flights even though the terminal is not in use.

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TWA Flight Center_JFK Airport_New York City_Untapped Cities-26A shoe-shine station was built into the design

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The TWA Flight Center is truly a place not to be missed. James believes the terminal should be open for Open House New York again this fall–last year he personally worked the event along with a very small staff–so here at Untapped we’ll keep our fingers crossed.

Next, read about 7 of JFK Airport’s Demolished Jet Age Terminals. Get in touch with the author  @untappedmich.

101 thoughts on “Behind the Scenes at the TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport

  1. First saw the TWA Terminal in ’66 as a teenager and fell in love with it. AS Brooklyn kids, only a 15 minute car ride away, it was a fun time to walk around JFK and enjoy the sights and sounds. I returned in 1969 to watch our moon walk on a big screen TV, which TWA had set up in the window lobby, just for that purpose! Ever loving the airport, i joined the PAPD in ’73 and transferred to JFK in ’74, where my first day assignment was at the TWA Terminal! i spent many years at JFK and many hours at this masterpiece of an airline terminal. Almost every other terminal at JFK has been demolished or altered from its original form, but this one and it is fitting that at least the most beautiful of those terminals was saved. i am happy for all ex-TWA employees, that even though their great company is gone, this architectural jewel shall remain as a permanent legacy! i could tell a 100 stories of things that happened in that building during my career, but no need. Just to say that i met many special ppl there, including a few that have remained important in my life, as well as my friend’s lives, since then! Thank you Michelle, for the beautiful pictures and perspective! One day, i must take the family to the TWA Terminal, now in its new iteration as a hotel, so that they may see a beautiful building that meant so much to the lives of so many! ~~bobby knapp on facebook 🙂 <3

    1. Yes! Thank you for sharing. It’s so exciting that the hotel is coming soon!!

  2. It is so beautiful. OH. MY.
    I will try to visit this when we vacation in NYC soon!

  3. I worked at TWA Flight Center at JFK from 1962 to April 1968 as a ground hostess.
    Loved every minute of it… even the crazy weather days. Such fond memories looking at the photos. So glad I experience them. Thanks for the memories….

  4. Those were the glory days. Some of the very best in my life. It’s a pity there’s no more TWA. Still living in New York…if I can help in any way…please ask.

  5. @Michelle

    Despite my previous remarks, I don’t think I fully appreciated the soaring, swooping lines of the interior of Saarinen’s grand design because it was usually filled with people. Seeing it completely empty gives one a chance to study it and really appreciate it.

    It would have been nice to see a few exterior photos as well. For instance, I don’t think I ever realized just how much the building was designed to look like a giant, majestic bird until I took the photo which can be seen here:

    I flew for TWA as F/E, F/O, and Captain, based at MKC, MKT, JFK, LGA, and ORD from 1965 to 1998, when I retired after TWA parked the last of its 747s.
    Good years.

  6. I stumbled across this site quite by accident, and it brought back many wonderful memories. I was a TWA cockpit crewmember for 32+ years, most of it based in NY, and departed from and arrived at Terminal 5 more times than I can count. I never looked at the terminal without feelings of awe and pride … awe because it seemed inconceivable that anyone could create such a beautiful structure, and pride because it belonged to MY airline.

    The final picture of this wonderful series appears to have been taken from the new Jet Blue terminal. The TWA sign on top of the Saarinen terminal facing what used to be the ramp is still there, and I’m told that it’s lighted at night, a fitting reminder of the world’s greatest airline.

  7. i needed some pictures in my head about JFK airport for my schooling and these pictures look amazing. i will not use them, do not worry, i just wanted to know what it looked like. this is perfect!

    Im named Michelle too. im in intermediate, New Zealand and im reseaching about it for work . Thankyou

  8. This was so great. I started flying with TWA our of Newark in ’61 and then to SFO after 6 mo. Spent plenty of time in this marvelous terminal (flying and travelling) So unique and am so glad it was saved.

  9. As a TWA Pilot for many years I was often based out of New York and loved flying around the world out of this special TWA Terminal. It is still very inspirational to all of us at TWA, as well as our passengers. No other place like it in the world.

  10. If anyone has any information how I may obtain a class photo of my graduating class from Breech Academy year 1969 please notify me. My roommates name was Nancy Stanzione. My best friends were Bea Addington and Erica Reudenbach. Please inform me if you have any info on any of these people.

    1. Dear Linda,

      I found an article on the on the internet. It was dated January 17, 2015. It is from the It states that Nancy was killed on November 17, 2014 by a van. I hope this doesn’t distress you. Please google Nancy Stanzione TWA and I’m sure you will see it. I am so sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

      Dianna Bennett, class of 1970, TWA Breech

  11. My first flight as a TWA hostess in 1965 was on a 707 from LAX to JFK.
    Seeing these photographs brought back memories of all those long walks through the red-carpeted tubes and feeling proud to be a part of the TWA family. Sadly, Eero Saarinen did not live to see his creation impact millions of people and become the architectural masterpiece that it continues to be. The terminal may be empty and quiet but the active information board is proof that the heart of this beautiful building is still beating. Thank you, Michelle.

    1. Beautifully written. Oh, how I miss our TWA! Absolutely the greatest airline in the world! So glad I got to fly during the “glory days” in 1969.

  12. I was a young Station Agent working for Aer Lingus at JFK for 5 years in the 70’s. Our terminal was next door to TWA’s awesome terminal and I dropped in whenever possible. A few of us would – on the rare occasion when we had a little money to spare – skip taking our dinner break in the TWA staff cafeteria and “splurge” on a meal in the terminal proper. What a joy it was to spend time in this awesome space, munching on quite excellent fried clams and soaking up the beautiful architecture amid the bustle and excitement of the place. i am eternally grateful that the building is being preserved and would love to take a tour of the place in the near future.

  13. I started my TWA career in 1965 as a flight attendant. Best decision of my life. Left after the two years with AA, when they told us “buh-bye” For so many years, while racing, walking , strolling through JFK and the long tunnel, I often thought “if only these walls could talk, what stories could be told!” I would tell them, if I could, thanks for the incredible memories!

  14. As you can see by my E-mail address, TWA will always be in my heart.
    So many wonderful memories of the people and places…!
    I was awed every time I came to JFK to work a flight out of this terminal. It’s a magnificent structure!
    Thank you sooo much for sharing.

  15. My father joined TWA in 1947 and there began a life of world travel. We oved from Inglewood California to Levittown Long Island. Daddy did sheetrocking on the growing community houses on his days off. Then a call came in during which he said, “No, No, I wouldn’t be interested but thanks for the consideration.” My mother, ever the dominant of the two, said, “What was that about?” and after daddy told her, she didn’t stop badgering him all night, until he said, “OK. I will call the company tomorrrow and accept.” Off we went to spend four years at the Cairo Egypt domicile of international pilots who flew the Connies from port cities such as Paris, Madrid and Rome to the Middle East and Asia. Imagine a little girl living in Cairo in the early 50’s. I continue to travel the world and became a flight attendant and then In-Flight Services Supervisor after college. Had a boyfriend in London and had to see him. I was known to fly to Europe for the weekend, including during my first marriage, to Shannon on Friday night to fox-hunt on Saturday and home on Sunday.
    Anita Boylan Spellman was the best manager and mentor anyone could ever have. Thank you Anita.
    I am never as happy as I can be when sitting in a plane that is taking off. It matters not where. Thank you pilots wherever you are, in the sky, for taking me on so many journeys. Thank you Madeline Bartline Cains for being my friend for life from Cairo to now. TWA was a wonderful trip. Daddy said that he “never went to work that he was not happy.” How many can say that. What a wonder ful life. Janet

  16. Those beautiful pictures brought back so many memories. I was Purser/FSM, from 1966 to 1992 and it was a career that I continued in the private sector until I retired for good in 2004. But my years at TWA will remain the best in my mind.

  17. Started out as a transportation agent in Newark. After private flight training became a flight safety instructor
    at Breech Training Academy. Later became a DCS out of JFK and LAX. TWA at JFK was a magnificent structure
    and made one proud to be a small part of a great airline.

    Imagine this young college graduate going thru TWA’S Breech Academy and learning she was based in New York and would fly International out of Kennedy…JULY 1969…so EXCITING!
    This terminal means so much to all of us TWA’ERS. You should call on us as passionate past TWA Flight Attendants to be involved in tours…I would happily serve as a volunteer.
    Thanks for sharing this beautiful article/photos with us!

    1. Surprise!!! Hope all is well with you. I’m back in Florida in the hotel industry…have three beautiful daughters…all fashionista’s in New York….and four beautiful grandchildren. Hope you get this. Tell me about your life. Cheerio….Mike.

  19. Dreams are fleeting moments in our lives, whereas memories are stored forever in pictures and in texts you managed so well. Yes I recall even having had the opportunity to visit the Constellation lounge, ” IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS “I was a Purser/FSM 66-92, Best years of my life.We were indeed FAMILY.
    What a pleasure to reflect upon such vivid memories.
    Many thanks Michelle

  20. Started flying with TWA in 1964 and flew out of LAX. It was such fun to fly into JFK and take the limo into the city for a layover. The whole experience was so very exciting!
    Years latter flying international out of JFK was even better. So many wonderful memories!

  21. I left TWA in 1961 so never saw this terminal. Although I am not a “contemporary” person, this terminal is
    just magnificent. Thank you so much for sharing this photos.

  22. That special TWA Terminal was a masterpiece of architecture suited to make all who entered ready to experience the pleasure of flight. As a TWA pilot for 36 years, it always made me proud to pass through it.

  23. What a great trip back in time!!! I walked up those steps many many times to work in the Ambassador Club. It was a great fun job. I met a lot of interesting people and made a lot of friends during that time. It was sad to see the terminal close the doors.
    I look forward to an opportunity to walk around inside again just to relive the experience.
    Thanks for sharing,
    Suzanne Betts

  24. I was hired as an “air hostess” for TWA on my birthday in 1968. I walked the hallowed tubes to our beautiful airliners until I retired as a “flight attendant” in 1994. Thank you for such an artistic and amazingly beautiful photographic perspective of this national treasure. Saarinen was a true visionary. I hope the new repurposing of this terminal doesn’t obscure the fact that from the outside the building looks like a bird landing…..a building of flight.

  25. Beautiful memories.Worked for 43 years At IDL/JFK- Hangs .5 and [email protected] From march 1957 to July 1986. the from July 1986 to dec 31 1999 when I retired!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  26. Thank you for the fantastic photographs reviving wonderful memories of a happy time in my life. I flew for TWA as an air Hostess from 1960 -1962; it was wonderful to see the Terminal being built and then to fly from it on International routes. At that time, many new terminals were being built at Idlewild, but we TWAers knew that our building outshone the rest of them. As an aside, my sister-in-law has the beautiful Tulip table, also designed by Eero Saarinen.

  27. I worked for TWA in London for 35 years and the beautiful Flight Center pictures bring a tear to the eye. It was the high water mark of TWA as a glamorous major force Trans-Atlantic airline. I recall that commercially it became something that the company eventually came to regret. Expansion was almost impossible and they had to develop space in the next door former National Airlines terminal which gave all sorts of problems to connecting passengers. It was always out of the question to tear it down and I remember a very senior executive once telling me that they very much regretted being in the ancient monument business!

  28. Michelle
    A very good friend (Verl Cumberland) put me onto your web site, we are both ex TWA and I wish to thank you for the memories. The “wayback” times in that terminal were awesome I think even for a employee out of Kansas City. You have now made one of my “bucket list items” to do, I have to go to NY if only to get back to the “jewel” of JFK. Thank you very much.

  29. I used to go there as a teenager and just hang out all day! It was great then and it still is.

    Chet Meyerson
    Captain, ExpressJet Airlines.

  30. I spent many hours in that TWA terminal during my 33 years with TWA, visiting friends in New York as a ticket agent and as a sales rep in Pittsburgh, escorting groups to Europe and leaving from JFK. It is a beautiful terminal. I hope it continues to stand and a viable use found.

  31. Spent 10 great years there in that building. Walked every inch. A lot of good times with a lot of great folks.

  32. When I first started flying for TWA as an international Flight Purser on the B707 it was from the and than arriving at the IAB. The TWA Saarinen terminal was finally dedicated in what – late 1968 ? – and we flew out and deplaned out of there. It was always an experience walking down those long corridors and coming to the rondell where the planes where waiting and we went on board for a pre-flight check and than welcomed our passengers.

  33. Dear Michelle,

    Sincere thanks for this superb portrayal of the TWA Flight Center. I flew for TWA for 17 years and I shall never forget my first flight was New York to Paris on Flight 800, departing out of this fabulous terminal.
    As a fresh faced college graduate, coming from Dallas, TX to NYC was quite the mind boggling experience. TWA will always be my airline, as a former Flight Service Manager I always took great pride in working with the finest group of airline personnel in the industry. We enjoyed a camaraderie that is unmatched in the industry today. We are a family to this day and as such, this was the epicenter of our world. The mere concept of The Saarinen architecture here is easily reminiscent of an eagle taking flight when you look upon the building from the front view. Thank you again for your keen eye in capturing one of the world’s truly memorable buildings, still stunning in all of her glory, beckoning the world traveler to take wing and take flight. The world is ours to discover and I would love to

  34. Wouldnt it be great if the”New American” could take it over as long as they would have to preserve it,so everyone could see it!

  35. Wonderful photos bring back many good and a few not so good memories! My husband flew with TWA for 28 years. I flew out of TWA’s JFK terminal to many times to mention. Spent three days stuck in this terminal during a blizzard, with a baby about 1964-65, They ran out of food and the toilets over-flowed, good times!
    Wouldn’t trade those years with TWA for anything. Loved the opportunities to travel and live in other countries! Loved all the flight attendants! Miss TWA and NY,

  36. What wonderful photos, bringing back so many memories! I was a F/A for TWA for 22 years and spent all of the 80″s and early 90’s flying JFK INT’l. We had such great flights, great destinations and great crews and passengers!!!! That beautiful building was so busy and active, the heart of TWA! You always felt special walking that long tunnel to your crew briefing and flight, anticipating the night ahead and the layover in a fabulous city! The architecture is stunning and I am so thankful it is being preserved. Thank you Michelle for the photos. I read about the open house last year and was unable to attend, hope to do so next time it is open.

  37. I went through the TWA Fligjt Center in 1983 on my way from Los Angeles to Madrid. I was on awe since I was seeing this spectacular architecture in person.

    I still cant believe that Delta was allowed to destroy the Pan Am World Port. Just goes to show the decline of a nation in need of Creative values. Hmmm the Romans lost it when they went from building beautiful developing Barfaotoriums…..

  38. This terminal brings back many memories for me. I was a flight attendant/flight service Manager for TWA before the take over by AA, and I was based in STL…I would fly into JFK from STL and go to LAX back to JFK..i never was based there but this terminal was awesome!!! So much life and still is!!

  39. I’m impressed, I have to tell you. It’s not every day you come across a blog that’s this good
    on web 2.0 site, and you’ve got it down completely. This particular topic is an issue that not enough people are talking intelligently about. Right now I’m very happy I stumbled upon this throughout my search for anything related to this.

  40. Great memories. Use to love to visit this place as a kid. I could wander all over the place and pretend I lived in the future. No security in those days. It had a great Calder Mobile in the main Hall. Would love to know what happened to it.

  41. As a kid I remember walking around with my mother trying to find my father in the upstairs bar with his Irish friends before boarding a flight to Shannon boy was she mad he worked for TWA and we spent many a time non-revenuing out of JFK what a wonderful place with tons of memories.

    1. Your 2003 photos confirmed my memory of the building. Big asbestos abatement job there as the acoustical ceiling treatment throughout possessed a high concentration of asbestos.

  42. I loved the chance to view the entire building without people ! Although I always appreciated the unusual design, as a flight attendant from 1970 until 2000 I was always in a hurry–running from gate to gate and trying to moved through crowds. I love the clean beautiful lines and am so glad it was saved !!

  43. Thanks for all these pictures that brought back many memories, started my career with TWA when the IDL flt center at that time was just being built and we worked out of temporary terminal in feb 1962 until later in the year when the terminal opened and flt wing two was new
    but flt wing one was temporary, I remember all the good and not so good times when we had wx delays and o/s being a PRR with twa these pictures are great

  44. I flew my first flight as a TWA pilot from JFK in December ’65. My last flight was in May ’97, back to JFK. Over the years I spent time at ORD & STL, but JFK was always the main event. These fine photos bring the TWA Flight Terminal back to life in its original glory. Congrats to all for a great restoration.

  45. Michelle,
    A dear friend of mine sent me this email with these wonderful pictures of the TWA terminal. I was a flight attendant from 1978 til 2003. Each time I entered this building, I marveled at this architecture. I was very proud to be a part of this legacy airline!
    Thank you so much for these wonderful pictures and for all whom are keeping TWA’S spirit alive!! I would love to know if there is another open house, as I would love to “revisit” the spirit of this wonderful place.
    Bill Budd, Las Vegas, NV

    1. Hi Bill, thanks so much for your nice comments! I’ve loved hearing from everyone who had been through or worked in the terminal. Thanks for sharing!

    2. Hi Bill

      This is Joyce Cannon (formerly Smith) and we worked together on the vision 2000 project in LAX. I too have many remorseful feelings about TWA and its demise. Especially here in the St Louis area. I have a long layover their tomorrow Saturday, October 20th and would love to reconnect. Looks like you live in Las Vegas? I am still in Swansea, IL and remarried 5 years ago. I was also trying to look up Jerry Burton but I think he passed away? Do you know. Send me an email if you can at [email protected] and I will check for your response. Take care! Joyce

    3. Billy Budd…..remember when we ran thru the Metro in Paris singing The Jets song from Westside Story?? It’s me, Lynn (Chapman, Murray, Smith, Chapman) McKinney…

      Last time I saw you was at Jayne Wilson’s wedding and we danced and danced!!

      Seeing these pics of our beautiful Terminal makes me cry. It was, once upon a time, a wonderful life.

  46. I love this photo study. My father was an executive with TWA for 40 years…If I recall correctly, when this terminal was opened there were even a few Lockheed Constellations coming through…but the show horse was the 707!

    My parents and I spent so much time in that terminal and later on in my professional life I had the joy of relaxing in the Ambassador Club a number of times on the way to Athens and points East.

    With all the fuss about Architects such as Kahn and Geary, even Wright Sr, this building must take its proper place as a prime example of absolutely unique 20th Century Architecture.

    I thought I knew and remembered all the good photographic angles, but I was wrong – this talented photographer captured, not only the architecture, but also, the soaring spirit of the place.

    Thanks to all who are devoted to preserving and revitalizing this gem.

    1. Kalani, thank you for your kind words and incredible personal memory of the building. We have loved hearing from readers about this building. Collectively, we are fortunate that the building has such a supporter in James Steven with the Port Authority.

  47. I am glad to see that the TWA terminal is being saved. I visited it several times over the years and was always in awe when there.

  48. Sorry, I forgot to mention that we flew in and out of this awesome terminal several times and always felt proud that we were TWA family. It was the best… we traveled on many carriers over the years, but none could ever hold a candle to TWA and the service provided to the passengers!

  49. These pictures bring many memories of TWA. As a kid in Philadelphia, we spent many an evening at the airport watching the planes come and go… at that time, you could stand right near the planes as people deplaned. One time when we were there, Howard Hughes came off and walked right near us, he was very nice and talked to us kids. I grew up and married a young soldier who served during the Korean Conflict. He came out of the service in 1955 and his job had been abolished, so he walked the streets looking for work… Frank Rinehart who worked for TWA in Philadelphia came to my family Hobby Shop and my Dad mentioned my husband was back from the Army and needed a job. He told my Dad to have him at the airport in the afternoon and he would have a job starting at midnight that night. He was out pounding the pavement and, of course, there were no cell phones, so we could not get ahold of him. Thankfully, he came home soon after, and he went to the airport. He started with TWA that night as a Fleet Service employee (as any old TWA’er will know) one of his jobs was emptying the ‘honey buckets’!! From PHL, we moved on to DAY and ended in PHX where he retired. He never got over the fact that TWA just disappeared!! His name was Larry Gordon for those who may have known him over his 35 TWA years.

  50. Working overseas for this Beautiful Airliner , it was A Great moment to walk for the first time on that Amazing Terminal ! What a joy ! The smell of hot coffee , smiling faces , I’m in America ……….. Thank You TWA !!! Still here after 32 years ! Thank You America !!!

  51. A brief moment in time. It was an era before the world was crowded and TWA was the connection to that world. TWA was my family. I loved coming to work and being part of it! I spent many hours in the cafeterria looking down on the lobby. Many memories of mine live in this building. Thanks to all involved in the preservation.

    John Eastman TWA

  52. The JFK Flight Center was literally, the cross-roads of the world. The first day I walked in as a perspective employee in 1973 and looked up at the Solari arrivals/departures board, I knew I was in the heart of the heart of the world of international travel. Thank you for the pictures that remind us all of what a privilege it was to work with such great people and for such a great airline.

  53. As a retired TWA Pilot, I was always amazed at the
    incredible span of this inspired architecture! I marveled at it each time I traveled through it.
    To me, it was a visual feeling that permeated the airline. As one person said, it has a heart and soul
    the same as the airline which lives in each of us
    today. Thanks for the tribute to something that will not die!

  54. I was a F/A with TWA also and was extremely proud of this magnificent edifice. Thank you Ms. Young, for the fine photos, and for helping keep alive all the memories we members of the TWA “family” cherish.

  55. Thanks for the wonderful pictures…you lift up my heart …as a former TWA employee…I am flooded with the pride I felt walking through this building. Would be grateful to hear of the next OHNY.

  56. As a former international flight atendant for TWA, this was my home base. You captured the essnce of this memorable building. miss it and I miss my wonderful, world trotting way of life. NJS

    1. Thank you Nancy for your kind words! It has been so nice to hear from so many TWA employees through this article.

  57. Michelle, these pictures took my breath away. They’re the first thing to ever make me wish I were at an airport. Isn’t it ironic that now that we’re in the future that this building foretold, nobody would ever build anything like it? Thanks for the great work…

    1. Thank you Mitch! I think you captured it exactly, the failed promise, the beauty, and the misplaced foresight to all of our common detriment.

  58. Thank you so much for these beautiful pictures. My 12 year old son couldn’t get enough of the pictures. He loves architecture!
    I remember very little of the terminal :(, my Dad tells me we flew out of JFK a few times when I was young (I am 45) so unfortunately I don’t remember much.
    Please please, how can we find out if you have another Open house? My son wants to see it.
    I have a question. Was the terminal pretty much in the condition of the pictures or was a lot of work done to get it into that shape?
    Thanks again. I have to tell you. This sounds silly or crazy. But when I see architecture like this, I wish I could hug it. It just so beautiful…

  59. As a 33 year TWA pilot I saw these images and had a sad feeling of remorse. I first saw this beautiful terminal in 1966 while appling for work as a TWA pilot. Thank you from tjhe bottom of my heart for a beautiful tribute.

    1. HI Gary,
      That was one of the most beautiful buildings in New York,
      and that is saying a lot since Ny has so many beautiful buildings.
      Great times.
      Ed Duenes

  60. Hi Michele,

    Great pics! How were you able to arrange a tour? I’m so jealous!

  61. Michele,
    OH MY! The memories flood my heart. TWA, In-Flight, 1967 to 1998. This terminal was a static wealth of energy at any time of the day. It had a “pulse” and a “heart”. I loved flying to or through New York. “Those were the days my friend, we thought they would never end……..” and they don’t as long as folks like you keep the memory alive. Thank you, Me smiling!
    Trisha – retired 1998 ,living in Newport Beach
    now with Prudential California Real Estate.:))

  62. Wonderful story and pictures. As a former TWA F/A I ran down those red carpeted tubes many times! I also always felt as if i was entering a cathedral to flight when I walked in. Thank you for the memories! Insidentally the First Class Lounge was called, “The Constellation Club,” and the other photo titled “Another view of the Frst Class Lounge is actually “The Ambassadors Club.” Nit Picky I know…but there was so much thought and detail put into every inch of that building I thought I would mention it. Thanks again!

    1. Thanks Grant! It’s so great to know the real names of the places I walked through. It was a really incredible experience and I wish I had seen it when it was buzzing with activity in its heyday!

  63. Superb job, Michelle! And the photos flood me with fond memories and the thrill of such irreplaceable architecture and design. I worked for Pan Am in NYC from June ’64 to ’67, then in San Francisco till 1983 and on a number of occasions I flew in on TWA, while we still didn’t have domestic traffic rights, homesick for New York. I thought I knew most of the Terminal and was always sad, when I saw some of the tile work damaged for all the high traffic. But seeing the deeply inspired architecture in this bare state permits true appreciation of shapes and harmonies. A building almost too lovingly/personally designed building to be an air terminal, at least by today’s mass travel standards. I really did not know what had happened to it. Will pass it on to some old Pan Am colleagues. Heike

    1. Thank you Heike for the lovely comments and insider perspective on the terminal in its hey day! You’ll be glad to know that the tile work has all been rehabilitated and I hope you’ll be able to see it sometime soon when it’s open to the public again!

  64. ((gasp)) This is just an awe-inspiring place and you’ve captured it in an amazing way. I hope to get to see it one day. Thank you for sharing its beauty with us. Wow.

    1. Thank you Melanie! Everyone involved has done such an amazing job restoring it and making sure it’s going to be there for everyone to enjoy in the future. Just needs one final push to get approval for adaptive reuse!

  65. Great post and spectacular photos! A small note: the award-winning recent restoration work was carried out by the New York architecture and preservation firm Beyer Blinder Belle.

    1. Thanks Nate! I’ve updated the text to show Beyer Blinder Belle’s work. Really incredible work by the firm.

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