Pan Am Worldport.jpg
The original configuration of the Worldport
Alternative namesTerminal 3
General information
OpenedMay 24, 1960
ClientPan American World Airways (1960–1990)
Delta Air Lines (1990–2013)

Terminal 3, also known by the trademarked name Worldport, was an airport terminal built by Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) in 1960 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York, United States. It operated from May 24, 1960 to May 24, 2013, and was demolished in 2013–2014.


Original use

The distinctive "flying saucer" roof design of the Worldport

The terminal was originally known as the "Pan Am Terminal" or Pan Am "Unit Terminal Building (UTB)." It was designed by Ives, Turano & Gardner Associated Architects and Walther Prokosch of Tippets-Abbett-McCarthy-Stratton as a showcase for international jet travel and is particularly famous for its 4-acre (1.6 ha) "flying saucer" roof suspended far from the outside columns of the terminal by 32 sets of pre-stressed steel posts and cables. The terminal was designed to allow for aircraft to be parked under the partial overhang; marketing brochures promoted it as the jet-age terminal that brought the plane to the passenger. The overhang sheltered passengers as they boarded the aircraft by stairs or by uncovered bridges. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Guide to New York City called the terminal a "genuine architectural attempt to answer the problem of all-weather connections to the planes" but derided the overall concept as "compromised by an overabundance of distracting detail".[1]

The building's facade originally featured zodiac figures made by sculptor Milton Hebald,[2] although these were later removed by the Port Authority.[3] The terminal featured the Panorama Room, a dining room with a view of the entire concourse, and the Clipper Hall museum of Pan Am history.

In 1971, the terminal was expanded to accommodate the large Boeing 747 and renamed the "Pan Am Worldport". The Worldport was the world's largest airline terminal and held the title for several years.

A Pan Am Boeing 707-100 at Worldport (1961)
In 2012

Operation of the Worldport changed hands when Pan Am declared bankruptcy in 1991. Delta Air Lines acquired many of Pan Am's assets, including the lease on the Worldport, which became known simply as "Terminal 3", and operated most of its long-haul flights out of JFK to Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America from the building.[citation needed]

In March 2006, Delta COO Jim Whitehurst announced that Delta would spend US$10 million before the end of that year to renovate Terminal 2 and Terminal 3, including its public spaces, BusinessElite lounge, and Crown Room Clubs.[4] In the July 2007 issue of Delta's Sky Magazine, Delta Senior Vice President Joanne Smith remarked on the "distinctive" saucer roof in an article on new flooring, lighting, and signage at this "historic airport".

Redevelopment and preservation campaign

On August 4, 2010, The New York Times reported that Delta was planning to move its international flights to Terminal 4 following the construction of nine additional gates in Concourse B of that terminal. Delta's domestic flights would continue to be operated out of Terminal 2. Terminal 3 would subsequently be demolished to create additional aircraft parking between Terminals 2 and 4. Construction of the Terminal 4 expansion began in November 2010 and was completed in May 2013.

On May 23, 2013, the final departure from Terminal 3, Delta Air Lines Flight 268, a Boeing 747-400 to Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport, departed from Gate 6 at 11:25pm local time. The terminal ceased operations on the next day, 53 years to the day from when it opened.[5]

Preservation groups campaigned to save the building and have it nominated by the New York State Historic Preservation Office as a historic place.[6] On June 19, 2013, the Worldport was placed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's list of eleven Most Endangered Places in America for 2013,[7] but by June 25, 2013, demolition of the elevated roadway leading to the terminal had already begun, although preservationists continued to protest against the demolition of the building itself.[8] The New York State Historic Preservation Office, which had revoked the building's eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places in 2001,[9] upheld this decision in May 2013, claiming the building had lost significant historic integrity due to excessive modifications.

The preservation campaign was ultimately unsuccessful and demolition of the flying saucer section was completed on November 22, 2013. Demolition work on the remainder of the terminal completed in summer 2014. The National Trust for Historic Preservation cited the Worldport as one of ten historic sites lost in 2013.[7]

There was subsequently large media outcry, particularly in other countries, concerning the demolition of the Worldport. Several online petitions requesting the restoration of the original 'flying saucer' have gained popularity.[10][11][12][13]

In popular culture

The Worldport in Live and Let Die

Worldport has appeared in several films and publications.

  • A Pan Am Boeing 747 and the Worldport briefly appear in the 1973 James Bond film Live and Let Die.
  • In the opening sequence of The Family Man, actor Nicolas Cage checks in at the Worldport for a Pan Am flight from New York to London.
  • The 1986 Italian comedy film Il Burbero features a brief glimpse at the Worldport during the main character's taxi ride to the airport.
  • Doris Day boarded a Pan Am flight out of the Pan Am Terminal in the 1962 film That Touch of Mink.
  • The Pan Am Terminal appears in the opening scene of a 1962 episode of The Saint entitled "The Covetous Headsman".
  • The 1963 British comedy Come Fly with Me contains several scenes featuring the Pan Am Terminal.
  • The Pan Am Terminal is featured in most episodes of the ABC television series Pan Am, as the show's Pan Am characters are based there.
  • The September 22, 1961 issue of Life featured a photo essay of JFK Airport (then known as Idlewild Airport) by Ukrainian-born photographer Dmitri Kessel. Many of the photos were of the newly built Pan Am Terminal.[14]
  • Vogue used the Pan Am Terminal as a jet age backdrop for its October 1960 fall fashion spread.



  1. ^ White, Norval; Willensky, Elliot; Leadon, Fran (2010). AIA Guide to New York City. Oxford University Press. p. 811. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
  2. ^ Knox, Sanka. "Idlewild Skyline Gets An Addition; New Pan Am Terminal Looks Like Parasol to Motorists Approaching Airport", New York Times, June 3, 1960. Accessed October 28, 2008.
  3. ^ Staff (December 2000). "Outrage – Pan American airport terminal in disrepair". Architectural Review. Archived from the original on May 24, 2013. Retrieved October 28, 2008.
  4. ^ Boehmer, Jay (March 20, 2006). "Delta Air Lines To Surpass American In JFK Departures". Business Travel News. Archived from the original on July 8, 2011. Retrieved July 20, 2011.
  5. ^ Frischling, Steven. "Photographer". Retrieved June 1, 2013.
  6. ^ "Save The Pan Am Worldport". Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  7. ^ a b Staff (January 5, 2014). "A look at 10 historic sites saved, 10 lost in 2013". Associated Press as reported by the Post Crescent. p. F3.
  8. ^ Clare Trapasso (June 25, 2013). "Preservationists fight to save Pan Am terminal 'Worldport' at JFK airport". New York Daily News. Retrieved June 28, 2013.
  9. ^ Save the Worldport. "2012 SHPO FOIL". Remembering the Pan Am Worldport. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  10. ^ "Port Authority Approves Construction" (Press release). Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. August 5, 2010. Retrieved August 5, 2010.
  11. ^ "New Plans For Expanding Terminal 4 at JFK Airport" (Press release). NYC Office of the Mayor. August 5, 2010. Retrieved August 5, 2010.
  12. ^ "Plans for Enhancement and Expansion of Terminal 4 at JFK Airport" (Press release). Delta Air Lines. August 5, 2010. Retrieved August 11, 2010.
  13. ^ "Details of JFK Improvements – Civil Aviation Forum". August 5, 2010. Retrieved August 11, 2010.
  14. ^ Kessel, Dmitri (September 22, 1961). "Idlewild Airport". LIFE photo archive hosted by Google. Life. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved June 12, 2018.

Further reading

  • Leslie, Thomas (2005). "The Pan Am Terminal at Idlewild/Kennedy Airport and the Transition from Jet Age to Space Age". Design Issues. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 21 (1): 63–80. doi:10.1162/0747936053103048. Retrieved October 16, 2011.

External links

  • Pan Am Historical Foundation ( Pan Am Worldport history
  • Archival Port Authority photos
  • Worldport Preservation Campaign

Coordinates: 40°38′26″N 73°47′12″W / 40.640555°N 73.786572°W / 40.640555; -73.786572