Photo courtesy of Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.
There’s a lot going on (or not going on) with LaGuardia airport these days–from a design competition, runway extension, and demolition of jet age hangars. But way before this, before LaGuardia airport was deemed a third-world airport and even before it accepted planes by sea, there is an earlier, lost version of the airport by a different name.
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 recently 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.
Glen Hammond Curtiss, for whom the airport was named after, was an aviation pioneer, a record setting pilot himself, and a designer of airplanes. Before Glen H. Curtiss Airport, the site itself was the Gala Amusement park, a popular waterfront entertainment destination owned by the Steinway family.
Just southwest of LaGuardia, across Grand Central Parkway, was Holmes Airport, and when it first opened was the only airport within the city, an advertisement claims. The 220 acre tract, today home to the Buolva Corporate Center, included two hangars, an office, two gravel runways, a flight school and a Good Year blimp hangar.
Though Holmes Airport targeted mail planes and freight (and could transport mail to the city via pneumatic tubes allegedly), it was unable to halt or compete with LaGuardia. Holmes Airport would close a year after the opening of LaGuardia Airport in 1939. Read more about Holmes Airport here.
Next, read about the plans for a new LaGuardia Airport by 2021.