View Full Version : Historic Newark Airport Terminal

February 11th, 2004, 10:40 AM
Historic airport terminal? Yep, and in Newark

Associated Press Writer

February 10, 2004, 8:21 PM EST

NEWARK, N.J. -- Dedicated by Amelia Earhart in 1935, the sleek, art deco Newark Airport Administration Building was an architectural statement announcing the arrival of a modern era epitomized by air travel.

"If you think about the whole concept of modernity in design, there was the whole theme of speed, movement, travel," said Bill Mikesell, an architect who is president of the Newark Preservation & Landmarks Committee.

The 69-year-old structure is considered by many to be the nation's and perhaps the world's first commercial airline terminal. It featured one of the first air traffic control towers, a ticket counter, waiting area, restaurant, airport offices and even overnight lodging for pilots.

The terminal was retired in 1953 with the opening of the larger North Terminal, which has since been demolished. Although the older building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, it was fell into rusty disrepair.

Now, after being moved to a safer spot away from the main runway at Newark Liberty International Airport, the building has been restored to its original art deco splendor, and is back in use as the airport's administration building.

On Wednesday, the historic structure known as Building 1, built by the depression-era Civil Works Administration, or CWA, will be honored at the 2004 awards ceremony and annual meeting of the Landmarks Committee, a private group that has recognized extraordinary preservation efforts each year since 1975.

"It's an outstanding, world-class example of the preservation of historic buildings," said Elizabeth Del Tufo, a committee member who also serves on the Newark Landmarks Commission. "They're preserving an old building to be an integral part of the future, which is what it's all about. And the historical significance of it is major: it was the first passenger terminal to be built in the United States, it was the home of the Arshile Gorky murals, and it's a wonderful example of the work that the CWA did during a time of great need in our country."

Wednesday's meeting will take place in the lobby of the historic building itself, its marble columns, aluminum banisters and terrazzo floor _ with a soaring bird and CWA logo _ reflecting the aerodynamic grace of early airliners.

Newark is one of the most storied airports in the country, conceived under Newark Mayor Thomas L. Raymond in 1927 and opened as a municipal airport a year later, when aviation was largely the domain of U.S. Army Air Corps and the Postal Service.

In 1929, Newark became the country's eastern terminus for the U.S. Postal Service, and then the main passenger airport for the New York metropolitan area, predating the airports now known as LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy.

"Most people don't know how important that airport is historically," said Bob van der Linden, curator of Air Transportation for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. "Before 1935, the airports were basically fields. The airfields were grass, planes would taxi up to the hangers, sometimes they would taxi into the hangar in bad weather."

Another milestone claimed by Newark and its operators at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey include the first runway lights, in 1952.

Moving the old 33,000-square-foot terminal nearly a mile from its original location four years ago was a historic event in its own right. The 7,000-ton building was the heaviest object moved by rubber-tired dolly, according to the Port Authority.

The $60 million restoration project, completed in 2002, also included a 66,000-square-foot addition in a contemporary style that seeks to complement, rather than ape, the original building's architecture. The new space house offices of the Port Authority Police and Fire departments.

Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, a Manhattan-based firm, oversaw the restoration project.

The old building's lobby, with its wall-mounted historic timeline and a display case full of authentic memorabilia, is open to the public. On the second floor, more privileged visitors can see a meticulously restored pilot's quarters complete with 1930's-era Newark Airport pennant purchased on e-bay and ascend a spiral staircase into the original oval-domed glass control tower.

The airport's general manager, Susan Baer, has her office on the second floor of Building 1, overlooking more recent structures, including the airport's second air traffic control tower, built in 1959, and slated for demolition this spring.

"This has been such a fun project," said Baer, who was also involved in preserving the 1937 Marine Air Terminal at LaGuardia, when she managed that airport. "It's a chance to do something outside of what we normally do, and it's a chance to preserve a very important part of aviation history."

Copyright 2004, The Associated Press

June 6th, 2004, 10:11 PM


December 17th, 2004, 09:30 PM
Once again...art deco RULES!!!