The iconic TWA Flight Center has officially reopened its doors, after 18 wasted years sitting in abandonment like a time capsule; a ghost of mid-century past, lurking just outside the airport's Terminal 5, now brought back to life thanks to a lot of money. The TWA project came to be through "an ambitious public-private partnership [that] was assisted by more than $36 million in federal rehabilitation credits and $5 million in state historic tax credits," according to a press release.
And the wonderful news is that the circa-1962 vintage vibe of the Eero Saarinen landmark has remained intact, thanks to a careful restoration and a preservation miracle—the place looks as good as it ever did. And it shall remain so until present-day humans—from bros donning sweatpants to Instagram influencers—ruin it. Which they will.
So what does this sexy new addition to one of the world's worst airports (but one of NYC's best!) mean for you? It means 512 hotel rooms, it means gorgeous lounges, it means rooftop cocktails by the pool, it means good (but still expensive) airport food, it means nostalgia. Here's the rundown:
(Tod Seelie / Gothamist)
- Split-flap departure boards custom made by Solari di Udine in Italy. A sight for sore eyes in a world that's turning to digital boards. Everyone can enjoy these!
- Lots of gorgeous retro hotel rooms! Currently "day stays" (if you just need, say, 4 to 8 hours) start around $149, and regular overnights start at around $249 on weekdays, hitting around $300 on weekends. Expect these prices to fluctuate.
- The Sunken Lounge will be operated by the Gerber Group and provides cocktails and a view of the Connie airplane.
- Yes, a Lockheed Constellation propeller plane named Connie has been transformed into another cocktail lounge operated by the Gerber Group.
- The space also includes museum exhibitions devoted to the New York Jet Age, TWA's history and the mid-century modern design movement.
- You want a piece of that? The TWA Shop has been curated by the New-York Historical Society.
- Departures Hall will offer grab-and-go dining, including restaurants such as Antico Noè, Empanada Republic, Fresh&Co, The Halal Guys and Playa Bowls.
- The Paris Café by Jean-Georges features 200 seats and breakfast, lunch and dinner menus.
- An Intelligentsia coffeebar and coffee carts are located throughout the hotel grounds. (These prices may make you nostalgic: We saw drip coffees for $5 and pastries for $7.)
- A 50,000 square foot event space features a 15,000-square-foot ballroom, so you can now get married at the airport. (Rehearsal dinner at Auntie Anne's.)
- A Phaidon + Herman Miller Reading Room, where guests are invited to relax on mid-century modern furniture by Herman Miller while browsing through books.
- A rooftop infinity pool and observation deck with views of... the runway! This will be operated by the Gerber Group as well, and will offer both food and drink.
- Less exciting: the world's biggest hotel gym, and a Warby Parker Pencil Room, where you can get pencils "emblazoned with pithy one-liners." The latter is an eyesore—it's incredibly out of place design-wise and really takes you out of the era.
RIP BEAUTIFUL OLD BAR. This mid-century gem, pictured here in 2015, was taken out of the new TWA Flight Center. (Tod Seelie / Gothamist)
One notable piece missing is the golden, mirrored bar (pictured above) that we spotted in the Flight Center when we managed to get in for a tour in 2015; reps for the TWA Hotel were unable to answer what happened to it and said it may have never even been there (it was). RIP mid-century gem, hopefully you were not tossed into a dumpster.
On the upside, the iconic flight tubes that you may have seen in Catch Me If You Can are reopened, and will offer easy connection to JetBlue's Terminal. And this highlights the most exciting thing about all of this, which is that this great landmark was restored and will be open to all—even if you don't want a pricey dinner or drink or overnight stay, you can take in the historic atmosphere while waiting to run over and board your flight, or do a walk-through after landing.
Of course, you'll be running into Instagram influencers along the way—photographer Tod Seelie attended the press preview this week, and noted that the place was already filled with them. And they've even got spots explicitly made for Instagram, like the "Connie" cockpit, which was designed for selfies. Welcome to 2019, TWA Flight Center.