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JFK Rising


New York! It has a ring to it, possibly like nowhere else. The City of New York lies on the north-east coast of the United States and despite it not being the closest major US city to Europe (that honour lies with Boston) it is today and always has been the traditional gateway to America.

Manhattan Island is the part of New York that mostly springs to mind and it is the centre of the city that features in almost every PR picture; the Empire State Building, once the world’s tallest; The Chrysler Building, the vaulted architecture of its spire stretching skywards. Just two of what sometimes seems like impossibly tall structures bringing the sky closer. With space always limited

Above left: JFK's control tower (Eheik)

Below left: A Big Welcome (Martin St Amant

on Manhattan the only way to expand was up and New York has been doing just that for longer than anywhere – it truly is the home of the skyscraper.

That same vista could be seen from a small outcrop of land in the bay, south of Manhattan and almost in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty. Ellis Island was once the first port of call for countless numbers of immigrants after a lengthy sea journey as the ship sailed through the Verazzano Narrows and docked at the island. Even as far back as the start of the 1900s, those immigrants could see the towering buildings of their new home across the waters of the bay.

The buildings have changed since those times, although even taller today, and Liberty still stands. Ellis Island closed decades ago, overtaken by numbers and the pace of technology. Today, and as it has been for the last sixty years, New York is served by three primary airports; the first however, is not actually in New York. Newark Liberty International was the first to properly serve the area but it is in New Jersey, across the Hudson River from Manhattan. At the time of Fiorello La Guardia’s term as Mayor of New York, when he flew into the city he called home, his flight landed at Newark. The Mayor then demanded to be flown to New York, since he had paid to fly to New York - not Newark.

There was at one time, some occasionally intense rivalry between Newark and New York, a rivalry that was only settled during World War I, when the port’s inadequate facilities were exposed by the movement of thousands of US troops bound for Europe. The result was the formation of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (the PANYNJ). As well as its docks and harbours, the PANYNJ became responsible for the airports that served the metropolitan area.

Mayor La Guardia’s disquiet at having to use Newark was settled when the airport that was to be named after him, La Guardia (LGA), was opened in 1939. Just eight miles from the centre of Manhattan, LGA however proved to be too small very quickly and within four years of its opening, the Mayor over saw the start of a giant new airport to serve New York.