Selected by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, here are the landmarks considered most at risk based on their historical significance and the urgency of the threat against their survival.
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Reasons to Save the Worldport
Culturally: Worldport was the site of the 1964 Beatles' American invasion. Many celebrities and dignitaries have traveled through it. Worldport was featured in James Bond’s Live and Let Die and 35+ movies and tv shows. Gene Roddenberry, author of Star Trek, was a former Pan Am pilot. He got the idea for "Starship Enterprise" from Worldport's design.
Artistically: it’s up there with the most beautiful examples of Mid-century Modern Architecture in the United States, with its 4-acre cantilevered saucer roof. Worldport was designed by architects of the renowned, and now re-popularized, Mid-century Modernist Movement. That is a recognized, celebrated art form of worldwide significance.
Historically: T3 was built in the late 50s by Pan Am, creating a fundamental shift in how people travel. Its innovation was being the first airport terminal "to bring the plane to the passenger.” T3 marked the beginning of the Jet Age and was the commercial birthplace of the Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet.
Worldport exemplifies the epitome of inventiveness that characterized the post-World War II era, when our nation was at its height of innovation and booming economy. The 50s-60s was a time of great change in American culture, art, architecture, and engineering. Back then—Americans did some pretty amazing things—and Worldport was one. We ‘wowed’ the world with our accomplishments and inventive American way. Worldport is an example of that “wow factor.” As Americans, we need to preserve it as a reminder—of who we are—and what made us great. That’s the essential reason we need to save Worldport.
There are parallels between T3 and the Grand Central story. We are faced with a similar dilemma that confronted Grand Central: what to do with a worn out building that has served its purpose? The major consideration is to find more value by re-investing in this building for what makes sense for business, historic, & architectural preservation purposes.
Progress is unavoidable, especially at busy airports where space is at a premium. We understand old buildings must sometimes make way for more modern buildings that can handle today's volume of traffic and security concerns. But sometimes historic buildings are just too important to lose, especially ones as unique and irreplaceable as the TWA Flight Center and the Worldport. These buildings represent an important era in aviation, architecture, American history, and human progress. Every effort should be made to integrate them.
Our campaign seeks to save only the original structure with the intent to responsibly restore, re-purpose, and continue operation for revenue-generating public uses. We have put forward some proposals to Delta and PANYNJ. Here are two:
1) Save the historic structure. Demolish the '73 add-on. Make the saucer an independent non-passenger-serving building open to the public, with a museum, restaurants, shops, aircraft observation, airport employee care, and other uses.
2) Save the historic structure. Demolish both the '73 add-on & T2. Build a modern terminal behind it in the same way JetBlue built its new T5 behind the former TWA Flight Center.
Delta Airlines is calling for the entire T3 complex to be demolished by 2015 to make room for aircraft parking areas adjacent to T2 & T4. If they save just the original rotunda portion, as we are asking, they would only be giving up 3 aircraft parking spaces. There is mention of T2 being demolished in the near future where additional operational space will be more than made up.
We believe the original Pan Am Flying Saucer terminal, like the TWA Flight Center, which only cost $20M to renovate, is an important part of aviation and architectural history. Though horribly neglected and left in disrepair, it is absolutely worth saving! We think it would cost less to restore and repurpose T3 than the $215M in taxpayer funds Delta stands to receive for demolition.