#278 Newark vs. LaGuardia: The Tale of Two Airports


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Newark Liberty International Airport or LaGuardia Airport? Which do you prefer? (Or is the answer -- none of the above. Give me JFK!)

Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy history! In this episode, we present the origin stories of New York City's airports and airfields.

The skies over New York have been graced with aircraft for almost 110 years. In fact the first 'flying machine' was flown by no less than Wilbur Wright, the man who (with his brother Orville) invented the airplane.

Yet by the time the U.S. government began regulating the skies in the 1920s -- making way for commercial aviation -- the city had failed to develop an adequate airfield of its own.

Meanwhile the thriving city of Newark, New Jersey, had just opened a glistening new airport, and in 1929 it was awarded the government's coveted airmail contract. Brooklyn's new Floyd Bennett Field didn't stand a chance because of it.

This did not sit well with Mayor Fiorello La Guardia who engineered a spectacular tarmac stunt in 1934, drawing attention to this deficiency. And then he began dreaming of a new airport in northern Queens, one poised to draw customers away from New Jersey.

And thus began a decades-long tug-of-war for supremacy over New York City skies.


CORRECTION: Near the end of this show, Greg says that 18 new gates have opened this month at LaGuardia Airport. It’s actually 11 gates in a concourse that will eventually have 18.

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