By the late 1800s, New York City had become the world’s preeminent seaport. Just a few decades later, it became an early leader in air travel, as well, with the opening of the first municipal airport in the United States in 1931. The city’s history as a hub of international exchange has endowed it with a collection of one-of-a-kind architectural gems that communicate the excitement and optimism of several past “golden ages” of these globe-spanning modes of transportation. Now, as New Yorkers look to the future with the recently announced plans for overhauls at LaGuardia and JFK International Airports, that optimism can inspire and inform our expectations. On OHNY Weekend, visit these sites to see how the architecture of transportation has evolved over time. All of these sites are Open Access during the times and dates indicated below, and do not require reservations.

 

M-Alexander Hamilton US Custom House_credit Evergreene Architectural Arts

Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House

Saturday & Sunday, October 17-18: 10:00 am5:00 pm.

This downtown landmark was built to handle duty collection operations for the port of New York. The building’s impressive architecture clearly expresses the city’s importance as a the center of commercial shipping at the turn of the 20th century. Constructed from 1900-07, the Custom House was designed by Cass Gilbert, and features landmark interiors by Louis Comfort Tiffany and the Guastavinos. Visit during OHNY Weekend for a rare glimpse into the ornate Collector’s Suite (pictured above). Tours will be offered throughout both days.

 

M-Cunard Building

Cunard Building Lobby

10:00 am2:00 pm.

Just across Bowling Green from the Custom House is the former headquarters of the famed Liverpool-based Cunard Line. Completed in 1921, the building’s jaw-dropping lobby (which recently became a Cipriani event space) features a grandly presented marine theme that underscores the power and reach of the Cunard Line at a time when New York had become the largest city and busiest port in the world. Visit on the Sunday of OHNY Weekend to marvel at the lavish, 65-foot high muraled celings, inspired by ancient roman baths, where transatlantic voyages on such liners like the Queen Mary and the two Queen Elizabeth’s were booked.

 

BK-Floyd Bennet Field _cred National Parks Service_full

Ryan Visitor Center at Floyd Bennett Field

10:00 am6:00 pm.

On the Saturday of OHNY Weekend, travel out to Brooklyn’s Marine Park to visit Floyd Bennett Field, which became the very first municipal airport in the country when it opened in 1931. Now part of the National Park Service’s Gateway National Recreation Area, the site’s main point of entry is the Ryan Visitor Center, which originally served as the passenger terminal for the airport and has been renovated to reflect the Golden Age of Aviation in the 1930s. The style of the building features an eclectic mix of elements from the Renaissance Revival, Colonial (Georgian) Revival, Neoclassical, and Art Deco styles.

 

oQ-Marine Air Terminal_credit Timothy Vogel via Flickr

Marine Air Terminal

Saturday & Sunday, October 17-18: 10:00 am6:00 pm.

Celebrating the glamorous early days of transatlantic air travel, the main room of the Marine Air Terminal was spectacular introduction to the adventure of flying and remains one of the city’s most distinctive Art Deco interiors thanks to its vividly colored wraparound mural by James Brooks depicting the history of man’s quest to conquer the skies. The gateway to the world’s first transatlantic passenger flights, the terminal was inaugurated slightly more than a decade after Charles Lindbergh’s legendary 1927 trip to New York to Paris.

 

Building date: 1962 renovation: ongoing Architect: Eero Saarinen Additional: Restoration, Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners

TWA Flight Center

Sunday, October 18: 11:00 am – 3:00 pm.

As anyone who has ever visited it will tell you, TWA Flight Center is a truly magical piece of architecture—a building that captures, in a way that words never could, the exhilaration and wonder of flight. Designed by Eero Saarinen and opened in 1962, this one-of-a-kind structure is now considered a masterpiece of Mid-century Modernism. Visit this OHNY Weekend audience favorite on Sunday, October 18, and get a glimpse of life in the glamorous Jet Age.