Serving as the third commercial airport for New York City after Newark and JFK, LaGuardia Airport facilitates significant passenger traffic in the city. Unlike several other airports, this one doesn’t allow flights of more than 1,500 miles. Located only 4 miles from Manhattan, it’s a hub for Delta Air Lines and American Airlines. While it isn’t a very popular choice among locals, it certainly has an interesting history attached to it. Here are some facts you probably did not know about it.
We use this airport regularly, it is way better than JFK, if you have a choice. Easier to get into and out of. Like everything in NYC, it is crazy expensive for just about anything.
It’s Named After an Angry Passenger
It all began when an angry customer boarded a flight from Pittsburgh to Newark in 1934. However, this irate passenger was none other than the City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. He refused to get out of the plane since his ticket had “New York” written on it.
To convince him, the airline took off again and flew him to a Brooklyn airfield. That was where he declared that New York needed a better airport and finally got it built. Unsurprisingly, this airport was named after him.
It Is the Oldest Commercial Airport In New York
The construction of this airport officially began in 1937. However, the land it was constructed on was a private airfield since 1929. Two years following the construction, it was finally completed in 1939. Hence, it is the oldest commercial airport in history because the first municipal airport was Floyd Bennett Field.
That isn’t it. It also stands partially on reclaimed land, which was created using Rikers Island’s landfill. It is the city’s biggest jail complex.
It Has Always Been In the Grip of Unconventional Rules
The airport doesn’t facilitate international flights because of a lack of immigration facilities. Furthermore, the flights can’t be longer than 1500 miles if they must land at this airport. However, this rule does not apply to flights from Denver or flights that fly on Saturdays.
It Was US’s Busiest Airport in 2014
While it may surprise many, LaGuardia airport isn’t exactly devoid of all aviation activity. In fact, in 2014, it turned out to be the country’s busiest airport. A record 370,012 flights were facilitated here, with the most popular destination airports being Miami, Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, and O’Hare in Chicago. A year before this, the airport carried more than 7,000 tons of air cargo and over 26 million passengers.
Long Ago, There Used to Be an Amusement Park at this Site
Before it was turned into an airport, this site was a popular amusement park and a waterfront entertainment destination. Owned by the Steinway family, it was notorious among the locals for the longest time. The same family also owned a piano factory close to Astoria.
All in all, the site has gone through various waves of change. It has undergone numerous changes over the decades, from an area filled with mansions to a zone with industries and manufacturing firms.
The Airport Runway Was Entirely Water
The Marine Air Terminal is currently the only airport terminal that dates to the era known as “The Golden Age of Flying Boats.”
A number of seaplanes have private compartments, dining rooms, and many luxurious amenities. They were known to land on the water before getting pulled in by boats. This was precisely why it was located on Bowery Bay. Even though seaplanes were commissioned for use during World War 2, land planes soon took over.
Just Across the Street Was Another Lost Airport
Holmes Airport was once the only airport within the city. Located southwest of LaGuardia Airport, it primarily targeted mail planes. However, later on, it couldn’t keep up with the competition with LaGuardia and closed only a year after the latter’s opening.
The Airport Facilitated the First Helicopter Airline
Even though it was initially a cargo and mail carrier at the airport, New York Airways later began carrying passengers around New York City. Hence, it was the first helicopter airline in the United States. Bypassing the city’s congested streets wasn’t easy; for this reason, many people appreciated the service. There were fewer transfers involved between airports, and there was no need to take subways.
It only took ten minutes to take a trip from LaGuardia to JFK, and people could easily skip the Belt Parkway. It was a super-economical alternative to taxis and was also considered the best way to move around the city.
During its peak, it also assisted various other airports, including JFK. Unfortunately, the cost of operation surpassed the profits made. Furthermore, the company had to be shut down permanently due to the fatal 1977 crash atop the Pan Am Building.
A Manufactured Mountain Is the Airport’s Parking Lot
Did you know that LaGuardia Airport has a manufactured topographic feature that sits just west of it? Ingraham’s Mountain is 86 feet high and was made using excavated material from the construction of the Lincoln Tunnel’s third tube. The height of this Mountain mimics the height of an 8-story building.
However, this Mountain was flattened 30 feet in the last few years, and it now serves as a parking lot for several LaGuardia employees. You may also notice shuttle buses running on the route between a service entrance off 19th Avenue and the “mountain.”
The Mountain only appears in a few city documents. In fact, it’s mentioned 188 times in the LGA Airport Draft Environmental Assessment.
In a nutshell, it isn’t the most sought-after airport in the region for the right reasons. For the longest time, the airport had been in the grip of inefficiency, poor customer service, and outdated facilities. While it has somewhat recovered from the stated plagues, it still has a long way to go.
Owing to the complaints made by locals, the PANYNJ (Port Authority of New York and New Jersey) finally announced a multibillion-dollar reconstruction in 2015. This deal is expected to cover the airport’s passenger infrastructure and will hopefully be completed by 2025.