Preservationists Plead With Port Authority To Save The Iconic Building

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A familiar piece of New York aviation history is about to go out of service, and it could be a few weeks away from a date with a wrecking ball.

The old Pan American ‘Worldport,’ officially known as JFK Terminal 3, is in its final two weeks of active life. Delta Airlines is moving out and plans to have the building torn down.

For some people, that’s just the way things are.

“It’s progress, you gotta move forward,” air traveler John Eby told CBS 2’s Lou Young on Thursday.

However, others want to save the building and preserve the rich history of the ‘Worldport,’ which was once Pan Am’s New York hub at a time when flying was exciting and glamorous.

“Starship Enterprise, it looks like a spaceship getting ready to take off,” said Glen Weaver, referencing the building’s four-acre, circular roof.

Preservationists want to save the piece that many refer to as “the flying saucer.” At one time jets would nose their way into the building as passengers boarded planes on portable stairways, shielded from the elements by the massive structure.

“Ironically, this building opened on May 24, 1960; 53 years to the day that it’s going to close,” explained Save The Worldport spokesman Anthony Starmaglia.

The building has been denied official landmark status because renovations have altered it too much from its original design. As a result, “Worldport” lacks the protections afforded to TWA’s “Flight Center,” which remains empty, but preserved.

The land-constrained nature of Kennedy Airport, and Worldport’s location, make preservation difficult, according to the Port Authority.

Preservationists offered a different explanation.

“The real problem is Delta Airlines wants the space because of the new terminal next door. They want the space to park the aircraft. Port Authority is going along with it because Delta has the leasehold for as long as they want,” Starmaglia said.

Delta plans to keep the less impressive Terminal 2, and preservationists are planning a final appeal to the Port Authority at a public meeting that will be held later this month.

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