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Custom History of the John F. Kennedy International Airport essay paper sample

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The John F. Kennedy International Airport is located on Jamaica Bay in the southeastern section of Queens County. The distance of the airport to mid town Manhattan is about 15 miles. The airport is set on 4,930 acres of land and it employs 35,000 people both directly and indirectly. It is important to mention that JFK is one of the busiest airports in the world. This paper seeks to give a detailed history of this airport. The JFK International Airport was originally called the Municipal Airport at Idlewild. It later became known as New York International Airport.


The construction of this airport started back in April 1942 at the edge of Jamaica Bay, which was then a marsh land and was put up by the City of New York; runways, a small cylinder-block building and a pair of airplane hangers were the first to be erected. In 1947, the City of New York handed over cover control of the airport to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The first commercial flights at the airport, back when it was still called Idlewild were in 1948 (Powell, Anne, E., Pg.43).

In the 1950's, the airport became the international hub for travelers who were moving to and from the East Coast of the United States. As a result of the increase in air traffic and the advancement of aircraft technology, there emerged a need for a complete rethinking of the airports layout. The Port Authority of New York came up with a grand plan that would see the construction of a complex of terminals that were to be arranged in a somewhat oval shape.

According to the plan, each terminal was to be occupied by one major airline and was set on a 655 acre tract. This was the preferred option as opposed to building a large central terminal. The new complex which was called Terminal City opened up in stages; with the first one starting its operations in the 1950's. This new model that was first used in the JFK International Airport opened up the doors of decentralization of airport terminal operations all across the United States (Powell, Anne, E., Pg.43).

The international arrivals' building was by far the most outstanding feature of the new layout. This building stretched for a length of about 11 city blocks. As these terminals sprang up, the major airlines vied in a bid to possess the most modern building. Trans World Airlines constructed a building that was designed by Aero Saarinen that became one of the most popular structures at the airport. Pan American Airlines on the other hand constructed an elliptical terminal with a 4 acre roof made of steel and concrete (Powell, Anne, E., Pg.43).

The year 1962, saw the opening of most terminal buildings; in 1963, the airport which had now become a world renowned land mark. It was then renamed for President John F. Kennedy. Two more terminals were then constructed in 1969 and 1970. Presently the central terminal area has grown to 880 acres and there are a total of nine terminals. The airport has also been extensively redesigned with some buildings either being replaced or entirely redesigned (Powell, Anne, E., Pg.43).

Recent Developments

In May 1998, construction was completed on a 634,000 sq ft facility which was funded by a consortium of four foreign airlines namely; Japan Airlines, Air France, Korean Air and Lufthansa on the site that previously housed the terminal of Eastern Airlines. In 2001, a 1.5 million sq ft terminal was put up at a cost of 1.4 billion US Dollars on the site that previously housed the International Arrivals Building. American Airlines and British Airways have also expanded and upgraded their facilities. The project by American Airlines constructed the largest terminal at JFK International Airport of 2.2 million sq ft complex by combining two existing terminals into one. A light rail system has been put up to give the passengers using the airport access to New York City mass transit (Powell, Anne, E., Pg.43).

Back in1949, the passengers who used the airport were 222,620; presently, JFK serves about 50 million passengers every year and it is one of the most famous airports in the world. The context of the construction and subsequent development of JFK portrays, in great detail, the significant role that airports have played in American society (Powell, Anne, E., Pg.43).

Facts about JFK

The airport code of JFK International Airport is JFK; the runway system of this airport is made up of two pairs of parallel runways, making it four runways in total they are; 4L-22R, 4R-22L, 13L-31R, and 13R-31L and they are aligned at right angles. The length of runway 13r-31L is 14,572 feet and its width is 150 feet.

The John F. Kennedy has Instrument Landing System and distance measuring equipment and its instrument landing system category (ILS) is IIIB. It is owned and operated by the Federal Aviation Administration. The approach bearing is bearing is 44 degrees magnetic with the magnetic variation being 14w.The distance from the runway stop end is 1027ft and the glide slope type is standard glide slope (Airport data.com)


Since it was first constructed in 1942, the JFK International Airport has undergone a series of name changes; from Municipal Airport at Idlewild, to New York International Airport and eventually to JFK. The physical infrastructure has also undergone drastic changes in a bid to handle the ever increasing number of passengers that use this facility. From handling about 200,000 passengers annually in 1949, the airport has grown tremendously for it now handles about 50 million passengers every year.

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