Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Heralding in The Jet Age

A while ago I wrote about Braniff’s corporate makeover in the late 1960’s with particular emphasis on their Love Field terminal in Dallas that changed the drab way America was flying in the late 1960’s.

Pan Am’s new terminal at JFK in the 1960’s was at the forefront of modern terminal design and heralded in the Jet Age with appropriate savoir faire. The terminal was built as a showcase for international jet travel and became part of a larger campaign to present Pan Am as the most sophisticated and technological progressive airline in the world. Up until 1971 the terminal was know simply as the Pan Am terminal, however after 1971 was renamed “Pan Am Worldport”

The terminal was constructed in 1960 by Pan Am and designed by Ives, Turano & Gardner Associated Architects and Walter Prokosch of Tippets-Abbett-McCarthy-Stratton. The most notable feature of the terminal was the large elliptical “flying saucer” roof which gave the impression that it was floating in air, and providing a cover for crystallized passenger spaces below.

Another feature of the terminal was the large overhanging roof that used a design feature of Templehopf Airport Berlin (built in 1936) that allowed aircraft to be parked partially covered under the roof, thus protecting passengers from the elements as they boarded their aircraft. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Guide to New York City called the terminal a "genuine architectural attempt to answer the problem of all-weather connections to the planes" but derided the overall concept as "compromised by an overabundance of distracting detail."

Another stunning feature of the terminal was a 200-foot long and 24-foot high windscreen in front of the terminal's entrance which was adorned with bas relief representations of the 12 signs of the zodiac, created by Milton Hebald, visible from both outside and inside the terminal building. When it was created, it was the largest such work in the world. As part of renovations, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey removed the sculptures, which now sit unused in a hangar at the airport.

Sadly with Pan Am’s demise the terminal was taken over by Delta, and subsequent renovations and expansion have left it virtually unrecognisable.


  1. thanks for dropping by my blog.. like what you have going on here too!

    all the best!
    david john

  2. Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving the lovely commen about the wallpaper.

    This is a great post. My favorite was and always will be the Eero Saarenin designed TWA terminal at JFK.

    The first flight I ever took as a child departed from there and I distinctly remember it being so grand. I was in ae and wanted so badly not to leave it.

    Funny the impact some things like that will leave on yoiu as a child. I was all of 5 years old but it left such a powerful impression.

    I jumped on as a follower so feel free to come back and visit (or follow) anythime.

    Best- THL

  3. David John, many thanks for stopping by!

    THL, I love the TWA terminal as well, and will be writing something about it soon. (I just want to give it the justice it deserves) Thanks for the personal sleight on it. So true about things that leave an impact on you as a child.


  4. Wow...I'd love to see those sculptures!
    Beautiful building.

  5. Loves this post! How I wish I cold travel back in time to when travel was fun and glamourous before I actually travel somewhere....

  6. Jason - see if the Port authority will sell them to you, howver you will have to fight me first.

    il duce- I knowjust the whole arrival at the airport etc was fun within itself


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