The Marine Air Terminal is the only air terminal in the United States remaining from the “Golden Age of Flight.” Traveling by air was once a grand event. LaGuardia Airport’s opening day in 1939 attracted more than 325,000 people and the terminal’s observation deck was often filled by the public coming to watch airplanes take off and land.
Inside, the circular ticketing hall boasts a mural by James Brooks that celebrates air travel with a modernist composition commissioned by the Work’s Progress Administration. Misguided modernization campaigns–including one that painted over the mural–undermined the Terminal’s character. Gerald Arend, a concerned citizen who worked in the building, raised funds to have the mural restored by the original artist in 1980. Arend also led efforts to gain landmark status for both the interior and the exterior.
In 2004, the Port Authority of New York/ New Jersey undertook a full inside-and-out restoration of the terminal by Beyer Blinder Belle, completed just in time for its 65th anniversary.