Monday, May 04, 2015

1481 LaGuardia's New Happy Face

Tourists arriving in New York by plane often pass this ugly thing without noticing it among all the other ugly other things they face at LaGuardia Airport.  
It’s a bust -- a terrible likeness -- of the city’s patron saint of the great depression, politics and folklore, Fiorello LaGuardia.  Many people rushing past wonder, “who’s that guy?” If you were born before September 20, 1947 he’s the best mayor of your lifetime. Otherwise, you can consider him one of the three best in the last ⅔ of the 20th Century.

But the airport named for him stinks.  It’s crowded. It’s inefficient.  Its location goes back to days when that part of Queens was farmland and fishing country and starting a plane required a ground man to manually twirl the propeller, like cranking a Model T.

Over the years, they’ve lengthened the runways which still are too short and still terminate in muck and oil and eelgrass.  And they’ve tried to make the buildings presentable.  But when almost 30 million passengers and thousands of workers use a building each year, aging comes fast.  LaGuardia is the slum of America’s major airports.

Well, the slumlord, AKA the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey has decided to make a grand new entryway so everyone will be impressed.  The bi-state agency is about to finalize plans, take bids, start construction.

LaGuards does not need a grand entrance.  It needs a grand exit or at least an efficient one.  It needs a good cleaning or at least a shave and a haircut.  It needs clear signs.  It needs floor workers who know where stuff is and a little linguistic fluency would do it well, too.

Fiorello spoke four languages: English, Italian, Yiddish and Serbo-Croatian.  (Serbo-Croatian? Go figure.)

A little Espanol would help these days and you can pretty much forget the Yiddish and the Serbo-Croatian.

LaGuardia Airport is not the Titanic and building a grand welcoming terminal is not shuffling deck chairs after hitting an iceberg. But it IS lipstick on a pig.  

A recent survey by the Conde Nast Traveler magazine rates LaGuardia the worst airport in America. It gets the same gold medal from Travel + Leisure Magazine. And it’s at or near the top in any other survey by any measure.

So, sure. Go ahead and build a new facade for the slum.  After all, a couple of extra years of traffic jams won’t make the worst place worse.  And putting on a happy face fools everyone.

Shrapnel (Weekend of Sports edition):

--The fight of the century. Won by the guy who beats up women and lost by the congressman from the Philippines who wants to outlaw gay marriage and other civil rights.  The fighters walked away rich and the ticket holders and pay per viewers walked away bored.

--The draft of the knuckle draggers.  For those who do not have the skills or patience to get their brains mangled in the ring, there’s always legalized slow motion gang warfare.  And the beatings are less frequent and methodical.

--The world’s most famous horse race.  As predicted the winner was the first horse over the finish line. But the real winners were the mint julep drinkers, white glove and  hoop skirt wearers and other dignitaries from the Confederate States of America.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2015

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