NEW YORK JOHN F. KENNEDY AIRPORT
part 1: MAKING PLANS
Manhattan was only five miles (eight kilometers) away, with a new highway providing quick access. The site also provided unobstructed water approaches for flying boats, which were commonly used on international routes in the interwar period.
Heavy landfill was used to create the 558-acre (226-hectare) airport. It was one of the largest public works projects of its time.
New York Municipal Airport, later renamed 'LaGuardia Airport', opened in December 1939. This time airlines flocked to the airport and traffic grew rapidly.
Consequently, soon after the opening of Municipal Airport it became apparent that an additional and much larger airport would be needed.
In 1941, after carefully considering its options, the City of New York--again led by its aviation-minded mayor Fiorella La Guardia--selected a marshy swampland on the south shore of Queens bordering Jamaica Bay as the site for its new airport.
A mammoth-sized airport of 5,000 acres (2,023 hectares) was foreseen ten times the size of LaGuardia Airport. Thanks to the mayor, 4,527 acres (1,832 hectares) were secured.
Aviation was not new to the area; a small airfield called Jamaica Sea Airport was located there. The area was then known as 'Idlewild', named after a well-known golf course in the area.
The golf course and all of the surrounding land were purchased by the city, and although the course was soon gone, the area continued to be known simply as Idlewild.
THE FIRST PLANS
In 1943, the first proposal for Idlewild’s layout was put forward. The plan included four pairs of runways, varying in length from 6,800 feet (2,073 meters) to 10,000 feet (3,048 meters). The runways would be able to handle the heaviest aircraft of the time.
Prepared by Delano & Aldrich, the architects of the terminals at LaGuardia, the design included a terminal complex resembling that of LaGuardia, a large maintenance area and a marine air terminal.
The airport was expected to be ready for partial use by the end of 1944. At the time it was thought that the total cost of the airport would be USD 200 million compared to USD 42 million that was used for LaGuardia Airport.
CENTRAL TERMINAL CONCEPT
American Airlines suggested a tangential runway system with 10,000-foot (3,048-meter) and 6,000-foot (1,829-meter) runways, surrounding a central terminal served by an underground railway. It was anticipated that there would always be five take-off and five landing runways, more or less into the wind.
The concept of a central terminal was considered to be most convenient, as aircraft taxi distances to and from the runways would be as short as possible. Thus, the idea of a central terminal was permanently adopted.
In 1944, the plan was modified to a final layout of 12 runways of varying lengths and a central terminal building with seven piers. What's more it would served by automobile instead of a railway. At the time, three runways were expected to be in use by early 1945.
THE PORT AUTHORITY TAKES OVER
The USD 70 million budget for the design, which came on top of the USD 60 million already spent on preparing the site, was more than the City could bear.
Therefore a 50-year lease for both Idlewild and LaGuardia airports was agreed with the Port of New York Authority (later to be renamed the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey), which took over their operations in 1947.
NEW DESIGN PROPOSALS
The Port Authority put forward its own proposals for Idlewild's development. The number of runways was brought back from 12 to eight.
For the terminal, it proposed two horseshoe-shaped terminals at opposite ends of the central terminal area, one with 30 gates for domestic flights and the other with 12 international gates. However, this scheme was also shelved.