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This is what the future looked like

Posted July 8, 2015 into Awesome by John Birmingham

The old TWA terminal at JFK airport is being redeveloped as a hotel. I've never been there. Chances are neither have you, even if you're as well travelled as Monster Yuppy. It's been closed for over a decade, but unusually in the US it hasn't been demolished and replaced with some aesthetically worthless commerce box.

One of the last echoes of the golden age of air travel, it was the final creation of the superhero architect Eero Saarinen. It's the shape we saw when once upona time we about when we thought about the future.

It would make a fantastic set for a SciFi movie, but should do just as well as a boutique hotel. There's a beautiful series of photo's and words here.

If a future Bond movie is not filmed here, there is something wrong and broken with humanity.

12 Responses to ‘This is what the future looked like’

Murphy_of_Missouri asserts...

Posted July 8, 2015
You can get a sense of that aesthetic at the St. Louis airport. Granted, I experienced that back in 1992. One probably can't see it there anymore.

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HAVOCK21 puts forth...

Posted July 8, 2015
ROF. I looked at this and went "BOND"and then read the post. Soooo true. But it reminded me of | I think its the spy who loved me, the underwater one with the dome that surfaces etc. Very 60's retro etc.

and you are right, some tight lipped puckered arse wipe will tear it down and replace it with a fkn brick!

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon ducks in to say...

Posted July 8, 2015
Nice. Form and function seemed to be ditched for just function the last 30 odd years which is a shame - at least it seems to be turning around . . . barely. And then only for what seem mega projects. My pet hate at the moment are bridges slapped in by local councils - obviously because of 'budget constraints' and for ease, but without exception are all the same concrete and steel cookie cutter pieces of crap on the eye. All function no form.(Don't get me started on the prefab concrete factories of the future that Bunnings et al. seem to breed in some dark cavern of the soulless)

HAVOCK21 ducks in to say...

Posted July 8, 2015
And lets nor forget the lack of EXPANSION ABILITY "on those fkn bridges. No thought to the future most now. fkn muppets

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Nocturnalist puts forth...

Posted July 8, 2015
A couple of people involved in property and construction down here tell me that nobody bothers building to last any more. Most modern buildings such as you see in urban CBDs are only built to stand for about ten or fifteen years - it's taken for granted that by that time it'll have been sold, knocked down and replaced with another one. Why waste time making them look nice?

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted July 8, 2015
I wonder if that has anything to do with the concrete cancer cluster down Surfers Paradise.

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robW swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 9, 2015
I used to go through there on monthly trips from HOU-NYC-LHR and LAX-NYC-LHR in the late 1970s when TWA and Pan Am were still the overseas airlines of choice. I remember the place packed with the very old and the very young, luggage, Hare Krishnas selling incense sticks, families meeting arrivals, parents saying goodbye to children, skycaps carting luggage, the smell of cigars, the blue haze in the rotunda from cigarettes and the cigarette-smoke streaks on the ceiling and walls, fancy restaurants that catered not only to travelers, but average people who would go to the airport to dine out and watch the airplanes arrive and depart, rows of luggage lockers that charged a dime for storage, a quarter for extra-large luggage, students stretched out on sleeping bags that overlay the fancy terrazzo floors, endless rows of counters with real people helping customers and writing out tickets in longhand, and the nose cones of huge 747s that would be shortly taking off for Europe, Africa, South America, the Pacific, and Asia.
Seeing the pictures of the empty terminal today is like looking of pictures of Chernobyl, and in a sense it is the same. Today's reality is radioactive compared to back then: the trust is long gone, the one-on-one exchange with a real person helping you without the intervention of a computer is gone, the service is gone, the leg-room is gone, as is the pillow and blanket and meals served in flight on real china and with real forks and knives.
The terminal today is like a spooky monument to a past that is gone, but not forgotten.

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted July 9, 2015
Wow. I think I'm going to have to steal that.

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robW asserts...

Posted July 9, 2015
Please do. A final thought about yesterday's tomorrowland today: Back then we hadn't invented the wheel. Seriously. Back when the TWA tomorrowland terminal was built everyone still lugged their baggage using just the handle. Bags with wheels started to appear in the early 70s, but they didn't work too well. Bags with wheels and an extensible handle so you could drag the bag behind weren't invented until the late 1980s.

Ba-zillions of bags being dragged through endless airport hallways worldwide and no one thought of adding wheels. So much for tomorrowland. Guess we aren't as smart as we like to think we are.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted July 9, 2015
Speak for yourself. I am precisely as smart as I think I am. Okay, maybe not precisely, but I'm close.

NBlob would have you know...

Posted July 9, 2015
I'm smarter than I give myself credit for, due to an unfortunate history of inconsistent detail management. You want big-picture solar-powered Zeppelin sized ideas, I'm your guy. I just can't find my pants, distressingly frequently.

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