Skyscraper airport of tomorrow, 1939


This November, 1939 Popular Science article fantasizes about a futuristic "skyscraper airport" for the "city of tomorrow." Pretty good predictions, except they missed the whole no-shoes, no-liquid, no-dignity policy. Link

21

  1. Airships and dirigibles of other sorts are indeed in our future – so much greener and cheaper to run than aeroplanes. But not 500,000-storey airports, methinks.

  2. so, below 32nd and east of 5th for eight square city blocks? If Robt. Moses couldn’t swing westway he sure as shoot couldn’t have convinced anyone to buy into this. not even Al Smith. It would be nice to not have to go to Queens. And don’t even get me started on that damn Idlewild airport and the MTA extortion.

  3. @ted: The sooner they bring back Zeppelins, the happier I will be. Of course, even a child’s ‘8 Today!’ badge will then be a weapon of terror (you could burst a gas bag with that pin! Quick! Tase him!), but still, Zeppelins! Sweet!

  4. zeppelins are cool and relatively fuel efficient, but they are inherently fragile, slow, and notoriously difficult and dangerous to manage on the ground. some even cracked up in the air in turbulent wind. for special purposes they might be ok, but for transporting people they are not a very good idea…

    flying cars however…where is my damned flying car…

  5. And who wouldn’t want to while away an hour or two in a formal garden at the edge of a runway, in the brisk breeze 500 metres above NYC?

  6. Actually, the Empire State building had an airship mooring device built into it (and still does IIRC)

    However, the updrafts caused by the massive size of the building made this an extremely dangerous proposition, and the idea was eventually abandoned long before 1939.

    At least one successful docking has been photographed: http://www.poster.net/anonymous/anonymous-empire-state-building-with-graf-zeppelin-1931-2804912.jpg

    And oddly enough, no taller buildings were ever constructed in that vicinity. The only NYC skyscrapers taller than the ESB were destroyed on 9/11.

  7. “where is my damned flying car…”

    Next to your jet-pack. Elroy banged it up a bit playing with it, Ru-roh

  8. A few years before 1939, the inimitable aviation eccentric, W. W. Christmas, promoted spiral skyscraper airports. A newspaper article with neat illustrations is at:

    http://www.rcls.org/jkuntz/spiralairport.jpg

    Note the runways lead down to a subterranean level, depositing passengers right next to the subway. Christmas made some terrific scale models of this–don’t know what happened to them.

  9. #7: Genetically engineered lemur people, who service the vast network of pneumatic tubes that link each desk in the airport skyscraper with the city’s dry goods stores, banks, and tele-vision theaters.

  10. ” zeppelins are cool and relatively fuel efficient, but they are inherently fragile, slow, and notoriously difficult and dangerous to manage on the ground. some even cracked up in the air in turbulent wind. for special purposes they might be ok, but for transporting people they are not a very good idea…”

    sure, using 1940s technology, zepps were slow, fragile, and difficult. i mean the hindenburg was made of what, canvas and flammable doping?

    imagine what modern composites would do for zepps now.

    i want my zeppelin! you can have your stupid flying car. i’m gonna be kickin’ it in the onboard lounge, smoking a hooka, and taking a nap while the zepp makes it’s way from SF to LA.

  11. Just a note on traveling by Zeppelin…
    My stepfather rode in one many times for a certain tire company after WWII. He told me that they tend to roll side to side even in calm conditions.
    So bring the barf bags when you sign up.

    That being said, I love to check out these type of drawings. It was their vision of the future.
    Sort of like those new wave fashions of the late ’70s and early ’80s…

  12. #17 > dontwant…. You’re stepdad probably rode in a blimp, not a Zeppellin (a Zep is a dirigible actually). Unlike blimps, dirigibles are built with rigid frames, and are more stable in flight.

  13. Something tells me that most people wouldn’t want a massive pink building in the middle of NYC

    But, I would most definately want Zeppelins back. I’d rather relax on a couch in a Zeppelin for maybe a day or more rather than be stuffed in an uncomfortable seat in a cramped airplane with a hundred other people.

  14. I’m hoping Sir Norman Foster reads this and takes it to heart…actually, he might have read it as a child and concepts like this are currently fuelling his mind for his next step in creating envrironment and not just architecture.
    My only problem with the design is that they’ve attempted to make it look like some sleek skyscraper from the age of the chrysler building…but immagine if the entire exterior were designed to replicate a mountain in a forest with water features and walking trails offering great views…peregrins and pigeons in balance…marmots instead of norweigan brown rats…and terraces for cafes and galleries. It would pay for itself in increased efficiency and decreased health problems.
    What this image fails to show, however is that the interior of the sturcture is largely hollow,creating a wonderfull lightfilled envrironment similar to the ancestral home of monkeys…warm air, gentle rain and the calls of our fellow monkeys happily conversing with tropical birds. uh oh…here comes the harpies!

  15. There is a building in Providence, RI, (the oldest of the twoformer Fleet buildings), that was built with an airship landing platform on the top. The tour guide suggested that many buildings built in the late 20’s/early 30’s had similar Dirigible ports built near the top.

Comments are closed.