JFK Terminal Among 11 Most Endangered Historic Places

Boeing 707 at Worldport (JFK) in 1961Today, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the Worldport Terminal at JFK Airport to its 2013 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

This annual list spotlights important examples of the nation’s architectural, cultural and natural heritage that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage.

More than 240 sites have been on the list over its 26-year history, and in that time, only a handful of listed sites have been lost.

Opened in 1960, Worldport Terminal at JFK Airport, known for its flying-saucer shape, symbolizes America’s entry into the Jet Age and has been featured in several Hollywood films. The first commercial flights of the Boeing 707, the first “modern” jetliner, departed from the Terminal. In May 2013, Delta Airlines ceased operations from the Worldport Terminal, since renamed Terminal Three. Delta and the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey plan to demolish the iconic structure.

Pan_Am_WorldportAlternatives to demolishing the Worldport include demolishing the south concourse instead and using Worldport as a connecting facility between Terminals Two and Four, as a dedicated or premier terminal or as an independent building open to the public containing a museum, restaurants, shops, aircraft observation space, airport employee daycare or other purposes.

“The distinctive flying-saucer shaped Worldport is one of the most recognizable places in the U.S. and represents an important chapter in aviation history,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “We applaud the efforts of Save the Worldport preservation group and other local advocates who are working to ensure that this historic building can be used in the future.”

The 2013 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places (in alphabetical order): 

Abyssinian Meeting House – Portland, Maine. The Meeting House was the spiritual center of life for generations of African Americans in Portland, but it needs an influx of funding to keep that story alive for generations to come.

Astrodome – Houston, Texas. As the world’s first domed indoor, air conditioned stadium, the 18-story multi-purpose Houston Astrodome was once dubbed the “Eighth Wonder of the World” but now needs a  viable reuse plan to avoid demolition.

Chinatown House – Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. Once a general store and residence for a community of approximately fifty Chinese American laborers, the house is one of last remaining tangible connections to the history of the Chinese American community that helped build modern-day Rancho Cucamonga.

Gay Head Lighthouse – Aquinnah, Mass. The first lighthouse built on Martha’s Vineyard, Gay Head Lighthouse is in immediate danger of toppling over the edge of the Gay Head Cliffs, a consequence of a century of erosion and the direct impact of climate change.

Historic Rural Schoolhouses of Montana – Statewide. Montana boasts more historic one- and two-room schoolhouses still in use than any other state, but these schools are at risk as the state’s population shifts to urban centers

James River – James City County, Va. Jamestown, America’s first permanent English settlement, was founded along the banks of the James River in 1607. The river and landscape are threatened by a proposed transmission line project that would compromise the scenic integrity of this historic area.

Kake Cannery – Kake, Alaska. Kake Cannery played a key role in the development of the Alaskan salmon-canning industry during the first half of the 20th century, but immediate action is needed to stabilize the structural systems of the existing buildings.

Mountain View Black Officers’ Club – Fort Huachuca, Ariz. One of the most significant examples of a military service club in the United States built specifically for African-American officers, the Mountain View Black Officer’s Club faces demolition by the U.S. Army, which has blocked efforts to list the property in the National Register of Historic Places.

San Jose Church – Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Built in 1532, San Jose Church is one of the few remaining Spanish Gothic architecture structures in the Western Hemisphere. Closed for 13 years, it is threatened by deterioration and structural damage

Village of Mariemont – Cincinnati, Ohio. The Village of Mariemont has been an inspiration for a generation of planners, but it is now threatened by a proposed transportation project, which would permanently scar the careful designs that make this place so unique.

Worldport Terminal at JFK Airport – Jamaica, New York. The distinctive flying-saucer-shaped Worldport Terminal at New York’s JFK Airport has been a symbol of the Jet Age since it first opened in 1960, but now sits empty and unused, waiting for a creative reuse plan.

Members of the public are invited to learn more about what they can do to support these 11 historic places and hundreds of other endangered sites at www.PreservationNation.org/places. Also, the public is invited to sign the Save the Worldport petition: https://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/save-the-pan-am-delta-terminal-3-at-jfk-airport

America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places has identified more than 240 threatened one-of-a-kind historic treasures since 1988.

Photos: Above, Pan American Boeing 707 at the Worldport in 1961 (courtesy Wikimedia user Jon Proctor- below, the original configuration of the Pan Am Worldport at JFK airport, now Terminal 3 (Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc., photographer- Library of Congress print).

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