The first airport in New York City
. It is named after Fiorello H. LaGuardia
, who was once mayor of New York. According to legend, he exploded after a TWA flight allegedly bound for New York actually landed in Newark, New Jersey
, the New York area's only airport at the time.
LaGuardia's original plan was to develop Floyd Bennett Field, a parcel of land in Brooklyn across the water from where John F. Kennedy International Airport stands today. American Airlines tried the ramshackle facilities at Floyd Bennett for a few months but discovered that the field was farther from downtown than Newark was. The new airport was eventually built in Flushing, where it could take advantage of the new Queens Midtown Tunnel.
The runways were poured on top of reinforced landfill moved across the East River from Rikers Island in a string of bungles that resembled a 1920's version of the Kansai International Airport project. There is actually so much metal below the runways that the airport had to post signs warning pilots about magnetic interference. LGA ran millions of dollars over budget and missed its planned opening date that would have coincided with the opening of the World's Fair. Its first incoming flight, an Eastern Airlines DC-2, landed as the hangars and terminal were still being finished.
LaGuardia did open, however, and by the standards of the time, it was the most modern airport on Earth. It was New York City's only airport until the advent of the Boeing 747 and other widebody aircraft, which were too large for LaGuardia's runways and terminal, necessitating the construction of a new airport in the Idlewild section of Queens that is now known as JFK.
Even though it feels incredibly cramped today, LGA continues to be used for domestic flights by narrowbody aircraft and business jets: nothing much larger than a Boeing 757 can land there. Business travelers often use it because it is still the closest airport to Manhattan.