Iconic Airports: Where Are They Now?

Yesterday, I went out to JFK Airport with no flight to catch and no visitors to greet. It was the annual Open House New York event, where private buildings and homes all over the city open to the public for a few hours, and it was a last chance to see the iconic TWA Flight Center before it is turned into a hotel. (You can see our photos from last year here.)

Native New Yorkers, retired flight attendants, tourists and architecture enthusiasts flooded the airy terminal, closed since TWA ceased operations in 2001, taking photos and sharing stories about the good old days of air travel. The mid-20th century was the high point in airport design; its airy and futuristic buildings can be appreciated by any modern day traveler who has ever had a layover at La Guardia.

We looked at some of the most iconic airport architecture in the U.S. and their current status. Is your favorite still flying?

%Slideshow-100872%DCA Terminal A – Washington D.C.’s first airport opened in 1941, and was considered to be the most modern in airport design at the time. In addition to its status as historic landmark and aviation icon, it’s also an archaeological site: the airport was built on a former colonial plantation and the birthplace of George Washington’s granddaughter.

Status: The original terminal was restored to its original look in 2004 and 2008, with the interior currently undergoing a massive renovation. You can still see many parts of the original lobby and building as it looked when President Roosevelt dedicated it. Check out some vintage postcards of the airport from the Boston Public Library.

IAD Main Terminal – One of Swedish architect Eero Saarinen’s airport designs, Dulles was designed in 1958 and dedicated in 1962, the same year the TWA terminal opened. The architect called the building and control tower “the best thing that I have done,” and inspired the design of Taiwan’s international airport. The “mobile lounges” were one of the most innovative concepts, carrying passengers in relative luxury from the terminal right to the plane

Status: Dulles wasn’t a popular airport from the beginning, as it didn’t allow jumbo jets until 1970 and the distance from the city is still off-putting, but it’s now one of the busiest in the country and is continuing to expand. The mobile lounges are still around, but the new Aero Train is more commonly used.

JFK Pan Am Worldport – The 1960 “flying saucer” was designed to bring the airplane to the passenger, sheltering the planes under the overhang for all-weather boarding. It was opened for Pan Am and renamed the Worldport in 1971 when it was expanded to accommodate the Boeing 747, and was the biggest passenger terminal in the world for several years. After Pan Am went bankrupt in the ’90s, Delta acquired the terminal and used it for many long-haul flights.

Status: Although it is on the list of the most endangered historic buildings and beloved by many airline and architecture enthusiasts, it looks like the Worldport is permanently grounded. While Delta just completed a major renovation of their other terminal at JFK, they need the room for airplane parking, and the flying saucer is already beginning to be demolished.

LAX Theme building – The distinctive Theme building is a perfect example of 1960s futuristic architecture, resembling something out of the Jetsons and actually inspiring the cartoon’s design. Part of the original ambitious plans for the airport was to connect terminal buildings with a giant glass dome, with the Theme Building serving as the main terminal, as in the picture above. One of the most famous buildings in the world, it’s photographed more than the Eiffel Tower.

Status: The Theme building has been a restaurant since 1997, and you can visit Encounter for a meal even if you aren’t flying. The free observation deck is open on weekends only if you just want to watch the planes taking off.

LGA Marine Air Terminal – For a passenger who arrives at one of La Guardia’s many dim and low-ceilinged gates, it’s hard to imagine that an Art Deco beauty is part of the same airport. Opened in 1940 and funded by the post-depression Works Progress Administration, the Marine Air Terminal originally served the glamorous Clipper planes, carrying 72 passengers on long transoceanic flights with sleeping berths and a high-end restaurant. The second World War made such flying boats obsolete, and the terminal sat unused for several decades.

Status: It’s now the main hub for Delta’s shuttle service to Boston, Chicago and Washington, even after a massive renovation to Delta’s other terminal at LGA. While it might have less modern facilities, it’s the only terminal to feature an original mural dedicated to flight (with a secret message).

LGB Main Terminal – The first trans-continental flight landed at Long Beach in 1911, but the Streamline Moderne terminal wasn’t built for another 30 years. The modernist building was considered avant garde at the time, but now feels classic and a bit romantic among airports, the kind of place you can imagine passengers boarding with hat boxes and cat eye sunglasses. Much smaller than nearby LAX, JetBlue made it a west coast hub in 2001 and put the California airport back on the map.

Status: Last year, LGB was fully modernized to make it more green and “resort-like,” with outdoor spaces outfitted with fire pits and cabanas. The renovation uncovered more of the mosaic tile art by WPA artist Grace Clements, then 28 years old, and covered by carpet for 70 years.

Two Queens Hook Up In California

Not even close to what the headline could be misconstrued as, two queens from Cunard Line, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary met for a historic Cunard Royal Rendezvous. What’s significant is that one is now a hotel while the other is a cruise ship. Thousands of travelers from all over the world were on hand for the event and fireworks ensued.

Fans of Cunard Line (called Cunarders) and maritime history buffs lined the shores of Long Beach Harbor for the event as the Goodyear blimp hovered overhead and the two ships exchanged a traditional whistle salute.

The Players
Queen Mary entered service as a passenger vessel in 1936 as the grandest, fastest ocean liner in the world. Sailing through WWII as a troopship, Mart transported as many as 16,000 soldiers at a blazing 30 knots (cruise ships today do 20-something). Queen Mary went back into passenger service after the war until 1967 when she became a “floating hotel,” parked in California ever since. A new Queen Mary 2 honors the original, designed for transatlantic crossings.

Much younger Queen Elizabeth, launched in 2010, is also the new version of a ship previously holding the same name. While capable of transatlantic crossings, this ship lacks the heavy plating on her hull and the propulsion system of Queen Mary 2. Still, the 90,000+ ton ship will carry over 2,500 passengers.

Mary and Elizabeth are two of the three Cunard Line queens. The other sister is Queen Victoria. Cunard Line is a member of the Worlds Leading Cruise Lines, Carnival Corporation-owned cruise lines that include Costa Cruises, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Seabourn and Carnival Cruise Lines.

The Event
A narrative of the ships’ histories was simulcast on both ships and ashore by Everette Hoard, commodore of Queen Mary who called the two queens, “the most famous ships since Noah’s ark,” in the video below.

This is not the first time Gadling has reported queens hooking up in a historic way. “There Will Be Three Queens In New York Today” told of Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, meeting in New York for the first time in 2011. But that too was not the first meeting of Cunard queens.

“In January 2008, Cunard Line’s first Rendezvous of their three Queens took place. It was quite exciting as it was the first time Cunard had three ships with Queen in the name and all three were together,” said cruise industry expert Stewart Chiron CEO, CruiseGuy.com

Also of historic significance, this is not the first time for a rendezvous between queens named Mary and Elizabeth. The original meeting came during the original Mary’s last transatlantic crossing before being transformed into a hotel.

[Image credit – Cunard Line]

Stepping Outside of Manhattan for a Long Island Experience

For the urbane traveler, New York City is thought to be the apogee of culture and excitement. But during late summer and early fall, everyone – even visitors – could use a respite from the sweaty, crowded, concrete jungle. And there’s no better place to visit than the city’s equally alluring neighbor, Long Island.

One of Long Island’s greatest draws is its southern shoreline. The best place to find roaring swells and superb fishing is at the end of the South Fork in Montauk. If you’re a beachgoer who prefers sun to surf, Montauk offers that, too. Check out the Montauk Point Lighthouse, which looks like a precarious beacon sitting at the end of the world. There are plenty of rooms in Montauk, but if you’re a camper, Hither Hills Campground puts you closer to the beach than any oceanfront property. While you’re there, stop for a savory bowl of New England clam chowder at the isolated restaurant Lunch in Amagansett. Also on the menu is the lobster roll, the now ubiquitous sandwich that Lunch claims to have originated. (Traveler beware: Before Labor Day, accommodations, even campsites, are hard to find, and traffic on Friday or Saturday out to the South Fork can be nightmarish.)

If you want a blend of the island’s high-priced Hamptons and relaxed Montauk (and desire a much shorter ride from Manhattan), jump into your car or ride the Long Island Railroad to the ferry stations of Bay Shore, Sayville, or Patchogue and sail over to car-free Fire Island. (Thursday to Saturday, you can hydrate at Blue Point Brewery in Patchogue, just a few blocks from the train station.) On Fire Island, plum trees and tall grass grow wild and create an idyllic vibe. The beaches are pristine and wild deer roam the dunes. If a peaceful day is your goal, head to the sleepy villages of Kismet or Saltaire, but if you’re looking to party, make Ocean Beach your destination. For a repast in OB, have a bite at Island Mermaid, next to the ferry, and enjoy views across the expansive Great South Bay. Sip down your meal with Fire Island’s indigenous libation, rocket fuel-a hopped-up piña colada.

For the more adventurous traveler, skip the ferry ride and drive to Robert Moses State Park. Find parking at field 5 and bike east, one mile past the lighthouse, onto Fire Island. Though at first the path is pocked with rocks and sand traps, once you reach the threshold of residential Kismet there are easy-to-traverse concrete and boardwalk paths. (You can also walk into Kismet and rent a bike in town.) After enjoying the quiet beaches, continue riding to the end of Atlantique, just a few miles down, and walk the mile along the beach to OB. The village of OB doesn’t allow bike riding on weekends. Further east and accessible by water taxi, or by ferry from the mainland, is a verdant sunken forest at Sailors Haven that is worth exploring.Another beach option that is less than one hour from Manhattan is Long Beach. This year, during the first two weeks of September, Long Beach will host surfing’s World Tour. The one-million-dollar prize purse (the tour’s highest ever) is attracting the world’s best surfers for the East Coast’s first ever Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour event. The town, which has a population of about 33,000 people, will be bustling. Expect skate parks, BMX riding, music venues, and crowds that are expected to reach the tens of thousands. (If you visit before Labor Day, purchase the “Beach Getaway” package for $21 from the Long Island Railroad ticketing machine; this includes round-trip fare and bargain beach access.)

Long Island also has some beautiful parks that are perfect for families, birders, and romantics. On the North Shore are Caumsett, a historic state park in Huntington, and the densely wooded Welwyn Preserve in Glen Cove. If hiking is your forte, a moderately strenuous trail begins just behind the Cold Spring Harbor library. The 26-mile adventure (though even trekking the first few miles is sufficient) makes you feel like you’re upstate.

The pearl of Long Island, however, is further along the North Shore: Wine country. Once dominated by potato fields, the North Fork has been transformed into vineyards and is ideal for winemaking thanks to its loamy soil, generous sunlight, and location between the sound and bay, which provides both natural irrigation and winds that dry the vines.

There are two roads on the northern prong that offer visitors access to the nearly 50 winemakers of Long Island: Routes 48 and 25. You’ll have a fine time traveling both, but my top five tasting rooms sit on or near to 48. If 9 a.m., midweek isn’t too early for you, Macari hosts the region’s first tasting and showcases beautiful views of its vineyard in the Mattituck Hills. Their Bergen Road is a beautiful red blend. Stop next at the island’s founding vineyard, Castello di Borghese (open at 10 a.m., a good hour before the rest). On Thursday and Sunday, tour with the owner, and an actual Italian prince, Marco Borghese. Try their pinot noir — they are one of only three vineyards in the region that attempt growing this finicky grape.

The most oddly situated tasting room is Waters Crest. Jim Waters, a retired fireman and 9/11 hero, took his garage-honed grape-stomping skills and opened his tasting room in a shopping center along Route 48. Though it’s hard to picture a quality tasting room in a strip mall, his whites and reds are unrivaled in the region. Waters also conducts Vine University, a two-day winemaking experience for those interested in learning the art. (The next one is September 10th and 11th.)

After leaving the shopping center, turn down Peconic Lane and look for a quaint yellow storefront just before the railroad crossing. This small shop is The Winemaker’s Studio, a newly opened tasting room. Winemaker Anthony Nappa breaks rules with his white pinot noir, which is typically a red wine, and his 2010 earthy Bordo, a cabernet franc that was released rebelliously early. His tastes are unique and his prices are unbeatable. The Winemaker’s Studio includes three other permanent winemakers-including John Leo, whose Family Red is superb-and Nappa also features a rotating list of noteworthy “weird” wines.

Another must-sip is Sparkling Pointe, the only winery in the state that produces purely sparkling wine. Their winemaker, born just outside of the gates of Champagne, France, has brought that acclaimed style to this Brazilian-themed, ultra-modern tasting room. Join them Friday nights for Brazilian dancing.

For breakfast or lunch, stop at Erik’s on 48. And for dinner head into Greenport or try one of the restaurants along 25. (If you find yourself on Route 25 with some extra time to drink, The Old Field Vineyards offers tastings in a rustic setting. You can also stop in at Bedell Cellars and afterward take your receipt to their sister winery up the road at Corey Creek for a free tasting.)

There’s no better time to visit the wine region than harvest season, which begins in late September. This year also happens to be an excellent time to responsibly tipple your way around the North Fork. 2007 and 2010 were the best harvests the region has ever seen, thanks to those years’ hot, dry summers. The 2007 reds are still available and the newly released 2010 whites are a prime vintage.

For accommodations, try the brand new Cedar House on Sound, which has billiards in the great room and solar panels on the roof, or Shinn Estate. Both are tranquil B&Bs run by winemakers, which means the juice keeps flowing.

If you’re traveling with kids, fear not. While you’re wining, abate the whining with stop-offs at the myriad pick-your-own apple, pumpkin, and berry patches in the area. Most of the family farms here have everything from hayrides to candy apples. Nearby, there’s shopping at the Tanger Outlet Center and fun can be had at the aquarium or at Splish Splash water park, until Labor Day.

Whether it’s beaches, parks, farms, or vineyards, there’s something for all on the island that dwarfs Manhattan.

Two Cunard Queens cruise to Long Beach

Not quite as cool as when Cunard Line ocean liners Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth, and Queen Victoria, met in New York last month for the first time, two of the famed Cunard trio, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria will cruise to Long Beach Harbor on March 3rd. Significant is the celebration of a milestone: the upcoming 75th anniversary of Queen Mary’s maiden voyage from Southampton, England on May 27, 1936.

“After the spectacular Cunard Royal Rendezvous in New York with our three modern Queens back in January, it is quite fitting that we continue the grand celebration on the West Coast,” said Peter Shanks, president of Cunard Line. “Queen Mary is an important part of our history and legacy and what better way to salute her than with a visit from Queen Victoria to celebrate the completion of her debut Americas season.”

Two queens coming to Long Beach is just one event in a long history of notable sailings.During Cunard’s 171-year history, the Queen Mary epitomized the golden age of ocean travel and served as a Cunard liner for more than 30 years. Additionally, she served as a troopship during World War II and a Royal Mail Ship, under contract with the British Royal Mail service.

Queen Mary’s influence lives on today as a hotel, museum and tourist attraction in Long Beach, California.

GadlingTV’s Travel Talk – Catalina Island

GadlingTV’s Travel Talk, episode 20 – Click above to watch video after the jump

This week we have an extra special episode – it’s Aaron’s birthday and we’ve decided to surprise him by going to one of Southern California’s best escapes for diving, watersports, and all things adventurous.

Located 22 miles southwest of Los Angeles, Catalina Island has a rich history as a private island and as a tourist destination. On the couch, we’ll talk about some of the many people who have claimed ownership to the island and why Avalon’s iconic casino isn’t the gambling type, and how Catalina is looking to boost their tourism industry once more.

Stay tuned as we take you zip-lining, scuba diving, show you Avalon’s newest hotel, and finally settle some leftover golf wagers from Orlando. Enjoy!

If you have any questions or comments about Travel Talk, you can email us at talk AT gadling DOT com.

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Interested in escaping to Catalina? Book your passage on the Catalina Express from Long Beach!
Where to stay – Avalon’s recently renovated Pavilion Hotel.
What to do – take a ride on Catalina’s brand new zip line course!
Love to scuba dive? Check out Catalina Scuba Luv.

Hosts: Aaron Murphy-Crews, Stephen Greenwood

Produced, Edited, and Directed by: Stephen Greenwood, Aaron Murphy-Crews, Drew Mylrea