For anyone who has flown into New York City, La Guardia International Airport which is also known by call-sign LGA is a mainstay. This large
travel complex and hub of planes flying in and out to worldwide destinations daily has been in existence for decades. As part of Long Island,
the airport makes a logical gateway into New York City by air, and millions of feet trample through the port doing so annually.
Because of its location, LaGuardia Airport makes a convenient and quick dash to the
airport for most working and traveling in and out of New York City proper. This said, the
Airport mainly handles mid-size commercial planes due to the facility's limited size and
runways. In fact, the DC-10 and the L-1101 were fabricated by McDonnell-Douglas and
Lockheed respectively for the New York runways. And in practice, wide-body commercial
models don't traffic through the Airport.
LaGuardia Airport first began its initial establishment, like so many other U.S.
International airports, under a different name. The air field first was known as Glenn H.
Curtiss Airport. The name was in honor and remembrance of a famous aviator of the
time, Glenn Hammond Curtiss. Prior to becoming an air strip, LaGuardia was originally
destined to be an entertainment venue, owned first by Gala Amusement Park. This entire
construct was knocked down and flattened in 1929, clearing over 100 acres for an air
Eventually Glenn H. Curtiss Airport became known more as North Beach Airport through
the 1950s. There is a museum dedicated to him. More information about him, or to visit
the museum, go to glennhcurtissmuseum.org
The idea of a New York City proper airport came about due to the complaints and disgruntlement of a New York mayor. When Fiorello La
Guardia flew into the area on his flight, it landed in Newark. However, the mayor's ticket specified New York. Being so irked by the discrepancy,
the major forced the airline to reroute the flight to an air strip in Brooklyn. At the landing the mayor then made a public press statement looking
for support for a New York City proper airport construction.
Actual construction on LaGuardia Airport with the mayor's urging occurred in 1937. Because the site was so small, landfilling was necessary to
build up the surface base of the location for bigger runways. This was put into reality by first building a metal skeleton and burying it with
landfill, ironically from the waste of nearby Riker's Island. This of course triggered navigation issues with flight instruments on planes using
magnetism, but it became a pilot's issue instead of a design problem.
The final construction and opening occurred in fall of 1939, dubbed New York Municipal Airport. However, the business
side of the facility was not functional until the beginning of December that year. The price ticket for the conversion and
boost of the port cost the City a few million over $20 million. The money, despite criticism, began to be paid back early
as people paid a dime at a time to park their car and simply watch the planes fly in and out of the airport. Over a quarter
of million dollars was already earned by 1939 just in parking charges. Almost three quarters of a million dollars began to
be picked up annually from other traveler charges having nothing to do with flying (food, tips, fees, permits, etc.).
In terms of initial structural resources, LaGuardia Airport included four hangers just for American Airlines. The company
had been supportive of the major's efforts to bring a full-fledged airport to the City, so they were rewarded with base
facilities once the project kicked into high gear. American Airlines went even further in boosting the novelty of the
airport, creating the first Admirals Club at LaGuardia two years after ground was broken.
However, American Airlines was not the only company to prepare for activities at LaGuardia Airport. Many of the major American flying
companies also were in talks with the City to get berths at the Airport, expecting to have access to the port by December 1939. This included
such famous company names as Pan Am and TWA. Operating with four different runways in the initial build, planes took off and landed in
directions that followed a 45 degree angle. This helped to make sure traffic was not approaching or leaving parallel or perpendicular to teach
other. The longest runway of the group stretched 6,000 feet.
LGA Airport .org
LaGuardia International Airport - From the past to the present