WIND SHEAR OVER LA GUARDIA

La Guardia Airport is the smallest of the three NYC area metropolitan airports (the other two being John F. Kennedy International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport) and was constructed at the urging of New York City mayor Fiorello La Guardia. Upon landing at Newark Airport, La Guardia raised a commotion (or, more precisely, a publicity stunt) due to the fact that the destination on his ticket read “New York” and here he was set down in Newark, New Jersey…not in New York City.

The indomitable Mayor demanded to be flown to Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field; and when La Guardia demanded people complied (even flight crews), the TWA flight quickly made its impromptu excursion to Brooklyn. As soon as he landed, La Guardia held a press conference, stressing the importance of New York City having an airport of its own and, hence, launched a personal campaign towards this goal…and the public listened.

On the northwestern edge of Queens, once occupied by the Gala Amusement Park until 1929, stood a 105-acre private airfield originally named Glenn H. Curtiss Airport and later renamed North Beach Airport. This was the site chosen for construction of La Guardia’s envisioned airport and work soon began on transforming the tiny airstrip into a 550-acre (2.2 km) modern airline hub; the price tag was $23 million. New York Municipal Airport (later to be renamed La Guardia) was dedicated on October 15, 1939 and was opened for business on that December 2.

New York Municipal Airport was a modern marvel to a public already captivated by the modern marvel of air travel itself, even if they weren’t actually flying. Thousands traveled to the airport and paid a dime just to watch the airliners take off and land. From such fees and related parking, the airport reaped in over $285,000 annually along with another $685,000 for non-travel related incomes such as food, etc. New York Municipal Airport was undoubtedly a huge financial success. However, by the 1960s, the novelty of flight and, more unfortunately, the marvel of La Guardia Airport were wearing thin in lieu of more modern marvels: jet travel and increasingly bigger jets, as well as increasingly crowded air traffic, for which La Guardia was ill-equipped and too small to handle. There are currently plans to either level and rebuild La Guardia or to close it down altogether; such proposals have, more or less, been passed around for the past 30 years.

“LaGuardia should not be the gateway for fliers into New York City; it should fundamentally be torn down and rebuilt again,” said Christopher Ward, Executive Head of the Port Authority which manages the airport, at a Crain’s business breakfast.

But Ward was quick to add that there is no funding available in the foreseeable future to rebuild the aging airstrip. As The Post reported last year, the PA cut $1 billion from its capital plan to rebuild La Guardia’s Central Terminal Building [the last time it was renovated was in 1964] because of budget shortfalls. {read more} NY Post

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