On the way to LaGuardia Airport along Grand Central, you’ve probably noticed the Art Deco Bulova Corporate Center. An Untapped Cities reader asked us recently, “Is there any info on the exact boundaries of Holmes Airport before the Bulova complex, etc., took its place?”

This website by Paul Freeman has a great overview and vintage images of the airport. The Holmes Airport was built in in 1929 by real estate developer E.E. Holmes on what was claimed the “largest piece of unobstructed property in the city.” The 220 acre tract included two hangars, an office, and two gravel runways. The first flights were to Miami aboard a Ford Trimotor plane. An advertisement for the airport targeted mail planes, which could transport mail via our favorite pneumatic tubes to New York City, and air freight companies. It was the only airport within the city, the advertisement claimed, as LaGuardia didn’t open until 1939 and JFK Airport not until 1943.

Holmes Airport-Map-Queens-NYC-2Image from Airfields Freeman.

Holmes Airport also had a flight school and a Goodyear blimp hangar. The airport was unable to stop the construction of what would become LaGuardia Airport. Veterans housing and a Bulova watch factory were constructed on the land.

3 thoughts on “Untapped Mailbag: What Were the Boundaries of Holmes Airport (now Bulova Building) in Queens?

  1. Great photos. I notice on the horizon behind the blimp you can see what is now the artificial hill for Amtrak trains. You can make out the overhead wires and a support tower at far right. I used to bring my Accutron watch to Bulova. I had no idea an airport was there. I remember wondering why the approach to runway 4 was totally devoid of buildings so far out. Other large airports often have low height industrial buildings. I guess Holmes airport kept it clear of development and then LGA after 1939.

  2. Holmes may have been the first municipal airport in NYC in 1929, but another opened only two years later. Floyd Bennett Field, built on landfill in Jamaica Bay, was inaugurated in the spring of 1931. Though it hosted many significant milestones of aviation history, it was never a commercial success, and the city turned it over to the Navy in 1941. Today it’s an aviation museum, part of the National Parks Service Gateway National Recreation Area.

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