Since the demise of Pan American World Airlines (Pan Am) in 1991, the fate of its sometimes-iconic, sometimes-maligned Worldport at New York’s JFK Airport has been hanging by a thread. Delta Airlines assumed control of the terminal after Pan Am went of business, and had been running it until its new Terminal 4 was completed in May of this year. With the arrival of the new terminal, Worldport has became non-operational, slated for demolition. Indeed, the bulldozing of several ramps connecting the building has already commenced. Workers are currently removing asbestos from the shell of the terminal in preparation for its final act: the wrecking ball.
The Worldport was heralded from its opening in the 1960s as a symbol of the jet age, a Modernist icon of technological prowess and world-spanning progress. Recent viewpoints have not favored the building as much, with Delta Airlines calling it obsolete and others attacking its inefficient and somewhat strange form. Best known for its roof, cantilevered 114 feet (35 meters) out from the main structure in order to protect parked planes and passengers from rain and sun, the building moved quickly toward obsolescence, unable to accommodate jetways or the massive contemporary TSA security apparatus.
Despite this, many are arguing for the building’s preservation, such that it could be an additional museum piece beside Eero Saarinen’s TWA Terminal. The Port Authority responds that there is no conceivable use for the Worldport and that JFK is already tightly squeezed on its landfill site.
Lead image from DMITRI KESSEL/TIME LIFE PICTURES/GETTY IMAGES.