Is It Too Late to Save the Worldport in New York — and Should It Be Saved At All?

A Boeing 707-121 aircraft operated by Pan American World Airways sits at a gate at the Worldport building in July of 1961 — slighter greater than a yer after the terminal was opened to the public. Photograph © Jon Proctor and used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License. Click on the photograph for additional photographs and trip reports by Jon Proctor.

Delta Air Lines recently celebrated the grand opening of a brand-new concourse costing $180 million at Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York — complete with a preview site in lower Manhattan — but along with that news came the closing of Terminal 3, which is otherwise known as the old Pan American Airlines Worldport building….

…and not only did the Worldport building close exactly 53 years after it opened, but it is also slated for demolition — something many people do not seem to want to happen, as they would rather see the historic building preserved.

FlyerTalk member jspira reports that a group called Save the Worldport turned to a technique known as crowdfunding to raise both awareness and money — it has already raised greater than $5,000.00, with jspira contributing a small donation — in order to rally in preventing the demolition of the old Terminal 3.

However, some FlyerTalk members take an opposing view, claiming that that building could not be demolished fast enough — although it is expected to be completely demolished by 2015. I know I can vouch that using that outdated terminal was quite inconvenient — but I am not sure that I am for or against the demolition of that building. For what purpose would the building be used if it indeed was saved from being demolished?

Well, jspira believes that the Worldport would have been a great setting for a branch of the new Delta Flight Museum when it opens in Atlanta in 2014 to replace the now-former Delta Heritage Museum. One of the first articles I had written for The Gate almost seven years ago included the Delta Heritage Museum as one of the places to visit while in Atlanta, and I hope to be able to report on the grand opening of the new Delta Flight Museum on the day of its grand opening — complete with photographs.

The plan to demolish the Pan Am Worldport building is not new, as FlyerTalk members knew about its intended demise as many as three years ago when it was announced that a $1.2 billion project would be implemented to build a brand-new terminal space. However, all that Save the Worldport wants to actually save is the rotunda section with its signature umbrella roof which extended out to protect the passengers from the elements as they boarded aircraft, as jet bridges were not in widespread use back in 1960 when the Worldport was opened to the traveling public.

Delta Air Lines and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey — under which the three major airports in the New York City metropolitan area operate — announced plans last month for the site on which the former Pan Am Worldport currently stands.

You can find out more about the original configuration of the Worldport — as well as a small portion of its history.

Meanwhile — despite a significant improvement over the old Terminal 3 — some FlyerTalk members are not happy with the new Terminal 4 primarily due to the long walk to access some of the gates there. In fact, FlyerTalk member menton1 preferred the old Terminal 3 over the new Terminal 4 for a variety of reasons.

Do you believe that the Worldport should be protected from demolition and preserved?

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Comments (Showing 2 of 2)

  • usafwso at 3:56pm July 13, 2013

    Just tear it down. A Delta Air Lines museum? Oh please!

  • jmd001 at 7:45am July 14, 2013

    I have no issue to tearing down Worldport … but don’t ever, ever, EVER tear down the Eero Saarinen-designed former TWA Flight Center! That’s the structure at JFK that needs to be continued to be saved.

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