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Brooklyn takes to the Skies Part II

Aug 4, 2011 3:21 PM | 0 comments



When one thinks of Brooklyn, airline travel usually isn't the first thing that comes to mind.  But in the late 1940's Brooklyn's business leaders and the Brooklyn Eagle wanted to change all that, and after years of campaigning, the lease was signed to open the first ever Brooklyn Airlines Terminal in the lobby of the Hotel St. George. The new terminal would provide information, ticket and limousine service to Brooklyn executives and vacationers alike. Eight airlines in all were represented in the attractive newly designed space--American, Eastern, United, National, Northeast, Northwest, Colonial and Capital Airlines.                  


Seated, Left to Right, are Tom Prevost, assistant vice president of National Airlines, and Kenneth McClellan, manager of the Hotel St. George. Watching the signing are Don. B. Wilson of United Airlines, Philip G. Nolan, who will manage the Brooklyn terminal; Edwin B. Wilson, executive editor of the Brooklyn Eagle; and Col. A. C. Welsh, director of theTraffic and Foreign Trade Department of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.  

The lobby of the Hotel St. George was a hub of activity on December 9th 1947 as crews put the finishing touches on the Brooklyn Airlines Terminal.


Cutting the ribbon on December 11, 1947 to officially open the new terminal was Miss Brooklyn Aviation, the lovely Mrs. Virginia Mullin, who won that position in a photo contest. For her hard work in promoting air travel she received two round trip tickets to Montreal for herself and her husband, from Colonial Airlines president Sigmund Janas.  With her are Lt. Gen. George E. Stratemeyer, commanding general of the Air Defense Command, Borough President Cashmore, Don Wilson-airlines executive, and Capt. Frederick N. Kivetter, commandant of the Naval Air Station at Floyd Bennett Field.


Better Air Sevice Proponents--Outside Hotel St. George airlines' ticket office, ready to board Carey Transportation bus for LaGuardia Field are: left ro right, Gilbert C. Barrett, president of the Brooklyn Savings Bank; Robert E. Blum, vice president of Abraham & Straus; Edwin B. Wilson, executive editor of the Brooklyn Eagle, and A. G. Wright, vice president and general manager of the New York Telephone company

This was a time of much celebrating and speechifying. Brooklyn Borough President Cashmore beamed with civic pride,"It's a pleasure to know that you can ask for a ticket to Brooklyn and not get one marked New York", for Brooklyn now appeared on all air maps as a scheduled stop. The festivities weren't confined just to the Hotel St. George. Cashmore had declared December 8-14 Brooklyn Aviation Week, and there were events throughout the borough.  At Laguardia Field Mrs. Mullin's daughter 3-year-old Priscilla (with her mother's help) christened an American Airlines DC 6, "Flagship Brooklyn," by smashing it with a bottle of Brooklyn-made beer. The Boy Scouts were there, with a color-guard of 150, forming a cordon around the plane. Catcher Bob Bragan, represented the Brooklyn Dodgers, and music was provided by those Ebbets Field stalwarts, the Brooklyn SymPhony.  At the Brooklyn Public Library nine models of current airliners went on exhibit, making it the largest group of airliners assembled in one show.  This exhibit was opened by Dr. Milton James Ferguson, Brooklyn's head librarian, and Mrs. Mullin as well, who I think at this point needed an airplane to get around to all her events.   


The Airline Terminal's tenure at the Hotel St. George turned out to be short lived though. Tucked away in Brooklyn Heights, it proved to be to small for a community the size of Brooklyn, and not convenient enough to get to.  Plus, adding to the confusion, the hotel's desk clerk was constantly receiving calls for people wanting to make plane reservations. So plans got underway to find a new location. In March of 1950 the combined efforts of the Brooklyn Citizen's Air Transportation Committee, the Brooklyn Eagle, the airlines and the Port of New York Authority paid off.     


At signing of lease for New Brooklyn Airlines Terminal, on Livingston St., in Biltmore Hotel, Manhattan, today. Left to right, standing, Philip Nolan, manager, Brooklyn Central Terminal; Everett Clark, representing Brooklyn citizens Air Transportation committee, and Don Wilson, chairman, Brooklyn Airlines Committee.  Seated, Charles Shuff, terminal president, left, and Robert E. Blum, chairman of the board of hte Citizens Committee 


On March 12, 1950 the new, new Brooklyn Airlines Terminal opened at 200 Livington Street, directly across from Abraham & Straus.  Brooklyn would no longer be according to the Brooklyn citizen's Air Transportation Committee, "the country's largest neglected airline market."


In this picture Margaret Arlen, WCBS's women's commentator stops at conventiently located Brooklyn Airlines Terminal 200 Livingston Street, to pick up air ticket and inquire about newly installed airport limousine service.  The radio star, homebound to North Carolina, had just finished emceeing a benefit fashion show in Brooklyn. 


Open For Business!  Philip J. Buckles Sr., station manager for Carey Transportation, Inc. posts sign at LaGuardia Airport advising of new service to be started tomorrow from Brooklyn Airlines Terminal on Livingston St. opposite Abraham & Straus.  Looking on is Edward E. Ingraham, acting superintendent of the airport.   


Milestone -  Thelma Illions, 18, of 2072 E. 22nd St., is congratulated on being the 2,000th airport limousine passenger from the Brooklyn Airlines Terminal by Robert E. Blum, vice president of Abraham & Straus, center, as Kenneth Heiberg, president of the Brooklyn Junior Chamber of commerce, left, and Philip Nolan, manager of the terminal, right, look on. 

Today we can take the AirTrain to JFK, and an AirTrain from Manhattan to Newark, but surprisingly getting to LaGuardia, (which by the way is the closest airport to Manhattan) can still be a nuisance.

Printing your boarding pass or an Eticket at home would have seemed like the stuff of science fiction to the travelers of 60 years ago, when a group of determined Brooklynites made sure that Kings County took its place in the skies.   


Image courtesy of MTA