Demolition began Friday morning on LaGuardia Airport’s Hangar 1, formerly occupied by American Airlines, in the latest step of the airport’s $8 billion transformation into a state-of-the-art, 21st century transit hub.
The hangar is being demolished to create the space needed to operate 35 new gates at the newly rebuilt Terminal B.
Hangar 1, along with adjoining Hangars 3 and 5, were built as part of the original LaGuardia Airport, which opened in 1939.
In 2014, then-Vice President Joe Biden famously compared LaGuardia to an airport “of a third world nation,” and Governor Cuomo affirmed his conclusion. The governor agreed that the dark and winding corridors of the airport, built in the 1950s, were cramped and antiquated — and that set into motion the concerted effort to modernize LaGuardia Airport.
Hangars, 3 and 5, will remain and will continue to be used by American Airlines for aircraft maintenance for the foreseeable future.
When LaGuardia opened, American Airlines signed a long-term lease for the hangars. At the time, they were the world’s largest aircraft hangars and were home to American’s overhaul base and its main offices. American continues to service parts of its fleet at LaGuardia, employing hundreds of workers in New York.
Terminal B opened in June, replacing the antiquated Central Terminal Building, which is currently being dismantled in phases. The demolition of Hangar 1 will create more taxiway space for airliners moving to and from airport gates, reducing delays, according to Port Authority officials.
The facades of the two remaining, iconic hangars will undergo restoration to preserve their Art Deco appearance in coordination with American Airlines and the New York State Historic Preservation Office. The original hangars were designed by architect William Delano, who also designed the Marine Air Terminal, which is today preserved as a landmark while continuing to function as an airport terminal.
When LaGuardia Airport opened, six hangars were built to serve aircraft landing on the airport’s runways.
A seventh hangar was built to service the now-defunct Pan American Airlines and its legendary fleet of seaplanes that landed in Long Island Sound. Hangar 7 remains intact as part of the historic Marine Air Terminal.
The mural in Terminal A rotunda is a historical landmark and has not been included in the current airport redevelopment plan, but are officials are investigating ways to do proper restoration. The last restoration of the mural was in 1980 after it was covered in the ’50s because it was considered to have “communist overtones.”
The Port Authority of NY & NJ is planning the historic preservation of the Marine Air Terminal at LaGuardia, similar to the re-purposing of and preservation of the iconic TWA Terminal as the TWA Flight Center and Hotel at JFK International Airport.
This story originally appeared on amny.com.