By Garland Pollard
What’s one of the most historic airport buildings in the world? There are many, including the former Marine Air Terminal at LaGuardia, now the home of the Delta Shuttle.
Delta also has another historic terminal on Long Island with a “way-cool” factor. It is Delta’s Terminal 3, the former Pan American Worldport, at John F. Kennedy International Airport. WorldPort was the trademarked name for the terminal during Pan Am’s ownership. Delta should be commended for keeping these two icons of American history in such great working shape (Editor’s Note: Occasional fix ups through the years have played havoc with the over-capacity Worldport, and it has gotten a bit run down.)
Delta actually operates Terminal 2 (built in 1962 for Braniff, Northeast and Northwest) and 3; there is a connector in between. Above, a Prelinger Archive 1958 film from the Library of Congress; BrandlandUSA found it and thought it would be a great primer for anyone about to go to Delta’s JFK terminal to go overseas.
The terminal was built by Pan Am when the jet age began. It is famous for its four-acre “flying saucer” roof suspended far from the outside columns of the terminal by 32 sets of prestressed steel posts and cables. It was built to allow the parking of aircraft under the overhang; passengers would enter planes from the rear in open Jetways. It was greatly expanded in 1972 when the Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet arrived. Recently, Delta has improved the experience there.
The American Institute of Architects 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.”
It was designed by Ives, Turano & Gardner Associated Architects and Walter Prokosch of Tippets-Abbett-McCarthy-Stratton. The zodiac figures across the building’s facade were made by sculptor Milton Hebald, though have been removed by the Port Authority. In 1971 the terminal was expanded to accommodate the large Boeing 747.
In March of 2006, Delta announced that it would spend $10 million to renovate Terminal 2 and Terminal 3, including its public spaces, BusinessElite lounge and Crown Room Clubs. It even added a Todd English’s Bonfire Steakhouse to Terminal 2.
In the July 2007 issue of Delta’s Sky magazine, Delta Senior Vice President Joanne Smith remarked on the “distinctive” saucer roof in an article on new flooring, lighting and signage at this “historic airport.” Click on the image at right for a direct link to Delta’s website, with descriptions of services offered at Terminal 3.