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Futurama: 1962

Futurama: 1962

August 29, 1962. New York. "TWA terminal, Idlewild. Union News restaurants -- Lisbon Lounge II. Raymond Loewy." Nowadays of course we have Sbarro's and Panda Express at the airport, but 50 years ago people had to make do with this. Large-format safety negative by Gottscho-Schleisner. View full size.


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I spy something out of place

There's a reflector lamp poking its head in on the far right of the frame, there's another one hidden behind the last three headed lamp on the left, you can clearly see the reflection of this one in the window. These are certainly not part of the decor so they must have been put there by the photographer for extra light.


At least they have a food theme. but they do look slightly olde-fashioned in contrast to the rest of this glorious eatery.

Khruschev's due at Idlewild

Today it would be Putin's due at JFK.

Car 54 Where Are You?

There's a holdup in the Bronx,
Brooklyn's broken out in fights;
There's a traffic jam in Harlem
That's backed up to Jackson Heights;
There's a scout troop short a child,
Khrushchev's due at Idlewild!
Car 54, Where Are You??

What's on TV?

Too bad we can't tell. Dang refresh rate!

[Looks like it's focused on the flight departure board. - tterrace]

There's A Holdup In The Bronx . . .

I'm sure someone remembers the Idlewild reference in that TV show theme song!

Raymond Loewy did design some wonderful items. I had for years an old twin-lens reflex camera he had designed; it was a soft green color and looked way spiffy. I gave it to a friend who couldn't live without it and have regretted it ever since!

Something is missing

I distinctly remember the acrid smell of cigarette smoke wafting in the airport in 1983. Obviously, there was no such smoking area in 2012. However, I'm shocked at what's missing from this photo on second deep look: no ashtrays. In 1962. Even my folks, non-smokers, had ashtrays around into the early 1970s for friends who smoked.

Days beyond recall

I landed at Idlewild in 1957, when I came here as an immigrant, and used it twice a month for business flights to California in the early Sixties. Back then, first class to the coast only cost you an extra $15 and passengers were given a choice of steak, lobster, or something else. People dressed nicely for their flights, luggage allowance was generous, and it was just a pleasure to fly. For a while, I could even walk from my office to the Pan-Am building in NYC, take an elevator to the roof and board a helicopter that whisked me to my terminal and gave me a stunning view of the Statue of Liberty.

Here is what the coach lounge looked like on American Airlines, so you can imagine how amazing first class was (it had a cocktail pianist).

Bar Tiles

As "space age" as everything looks, the tiles that make up the front of the bar just don't seem to fit in to me.

Prolific designer

Raymond Loewy designed everything from locomotives to vacuum cleaners to cookware, spanning six decades. His Studebaker designs are especially iconic and amazing. I had no idea he (or at least his firm) designed restaurants, too.

Idlewild Redeaux

I too was there, but much younger. I do remember the B-47's that were there (if you saw Jimmy Stewart in "Strategic Air Command" he was flying a B-47). I also remember the main (and then only) wooden terminal (later torn down). Things have changed greatly since then, not all ways for the better.


Living under the flight path of JFK (bad weather days only, thank God), I'd often wondered about the name change; seems it was a rather prosaic moniker for the golf course the airport replaced.

Nevertheless, JFK has, in my mind, been under construction almost continuously since it opened; having been here numerous times, whether departing, arriving or pickup/drop-off, getting around the airport is a never-ending challenge -- but I always enjoyed the unique architecture of TWA, as well as the PanAm "spaceport" with its rooftop parking; even the British Airways terminal is interesting in the twilight.

Ya gotta love the '60s.

Idlewild Opening

I remember being at the dedication of Idlewild Airport in July 1948. I was 15 years old.We were living in a summer bungalow at Shorpy's old friend, the Rockaways. A Buddy and I went by city buses to the airport very early in the morning. We wandered around the place, taking in the aircraft and anything else that looked interesting. We decided to eat our homemade lunches around 10AM. There was an area set up with viewing stands like the bleacher section of a ball park and climbed to the top row and sat there. A few moments later a contingent of NYPD cops gathered in front of the stands. They looked up and saw us and let us be. Soon after, some civilians arrived they saw us as well. They called to us to come down and we did. They were US Secret Service and were there to protect President Truman who was to speak at the Dedication. One of them pointed to an area if front of us and told us we could stay there. Eventually the ceremonies started and about an hour later the President spoke. I don't remember anything he said but it was a thrill just to be there. We got back to the beach later that afternoon, just in time to view a spectacular air-show.

I've been through JFK three times in my life.

Twice in 1983, a month apart, and once last year.

The airport has definitely not improved in the intervening years.

Food might be more diverse, and with at least slightly more name brand restraunts, but I do believe that I would have been happier all three times being able to set down in this setting, and enjoy a nicer meal.

And it's DEFINITELY less crowded in this picture (there should be 50-60 people here based on the airport today!); every time I've gone through the airport, it feels like I'm getting closer and closer to seeing someone sell Soylent Steaks. Make room, make room!

Union News Company

Was sort of the eastern version of the Harvey Houses on the Santa Fe. I never knew they were in airports, or had anything this fancy. I remember the Union News restaurant in the Augusta (Georgia) Union Station, and there was even one at the station here in Florence, SC. When Charleston (SC) Union Station burned in a spectacular 1948 fire, it was said the fire started in the Union News Company kitchen. (For years thereafter, employees joked that the Atlantic Coast Line RR had paid Union News to burn the building down for them.)

I believe Union News also employed the "News Butches," who rode trains carrying big tubs of snacks, beverages, and of course newspapers. The tubs looked so heavy, and the "Butches" so tired and worn down, that I always tried to buy something from them, even if I didn't really want anything.

Not irrational

I know I am suffering an irrational and merely romantic longing for something long gone.

Your romantic longing is certainly not irrational.

This was an inviting place, and I can imagine strolling in while on a layover and smoking a cigarette, and sitting down at the bar for a Jim Beam on the rocks and a steak dinner. I'd meet someone sitting nearby who was also traveling, and we'd exchange a story or two while idling for our flights.


I've never been to Idlewild/JFK, but my experience in airports suggests that the Panda Express era was an improvement on the couple of decades that followed this idyll. Remember the proprietary no-name snack stands with no selection and sky-high (!) prices?

Also, I think we're well into a new era, with relatively interesting food-court options from real restaurateurs.

Still, I'd give anything for a quick jaunt to '62 ...

What's in a name?

There is something rather beautiful about the old name of this airport ... Idlewild has a soft sound to it; it's lyrical, and summons visions of meadows and a more graceful era; and I wish that I had flown in or out of there when it had that lovely name.

I suspect that Dave's comment that '50 years ago people had to make do with this' is a trifle tongue-in-cheek; if today I could purchase a real ticket to fly across the Atlantic into Idlewild, and find myself in this rather beautiful lounge, with place settings that suggest they served real food, I would reserve my flight in a heartbeat.

I know I am suffering an irrational and merely romantic longing for something long gone.

Yet another Mad Men reference

but I can totally see Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Price sitting here drinking Martinis and hitting on Stewardesses.

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