Flashback Friday: “The Bronx Airport That Never Was”

Adam Snider
April 20, 2018


Workers loading fuel aboard the Spirit of St. Louis on Long Island in 1927
(Picture by the Associated Press)

This Flashback Friday is a unique one - it's about an airport that never actually got built. The New York Times has the interesting history of a planned airport in New York as aviation's popularity soared in the 1920s, only to be halted due to the Great Depression that started in 1929:

Discussion of a large airport in the New York area dates to 1925, but little was done until 1927, when Charles Lindbergh’s solo trans-Atlantic flight kicked the effort into high gear. By the end of the year, the Commerce Department, led by future president Herbert Hoover, had identified six potential locations: four in New York City, two in New Jersey.

One of the New Jersey sites, in the Newark area, and now known as Newark Liberty International Airport, opened on Oct. 1, 1928. Plans for a New York counterpart would be complicated by a private company’s foray into the scramble.

... The airport appeared inevitable, but in October 1929, the stock market crashed. By 1936, Curtiss-Wright was more than a half- million dollar in arrears on its property taxes on this one site, and soon liquidated its airport subsidiary.

By that point, Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia, unsatisfied with the travel time from Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field to Manhattan, had shifted his sights to northern Queens. That airport, which now bears his name, opened in 1939. 

… The Bronx can still claim one aviation distinction: the former Morris Park racetrack was converted to the world’s first established airfield in 1908. It was torn down for development a few years later.