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New York Arrival

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Things have been a little quiet here at ronsview. Sorry about that. I left early Thursday morning for New York, returning mid-afternoon yesterday. I have a bit of a blog klog (weblog backlog). I’ll see what I can do about clearing it.

Despite bad weather in the northeast on Thursday, my JetBlue flight landed on time. It was due for an early arrival, but was held up about 80 miles out and circled around a bit. Not so lucky was Joel. I got in at 5:00. He was coming down from Boston on JetBlue, due in at 5:52, the best we could do to coordinate flights. However, he started boarding only after I landed, they sat at the gate for an hour, sat on the taxiway a while, and ultimately landed at 8:00. (At the hotel later that night, we saw on the local weather report that the average delay at airports from Baltimore to Boston was about 2 hours.)

So there I was, waiting for over 3 hours. Had I not checked a bag, I could have sat near the gates in JetBlue’s wonderful Terminal 5, which I hadn’t explored before.* Instead, I left he security area, got my suitcase, and had no services to choose from. This is the modern way, of course, and it makes sense, but maybe modern terminal design has gone a little too far in eliminating options on the public side of security. With all the time to kill, I took the AirTrain over to Hertz, got our car, drove back, parked it in the T5 parking garage, and walked back to the terminal. I then had over 2 hours to explore the arrival and departure levels thoroughly. Both had a Dunkin’ Donuts and an adjacent small bar. Both had little retail stores whose food options consisted of candy, an assortment of chips and pretzels, and a variety of nuts and trail mixes. Not that I wanted to eat dinner; I preferred to do that with Joel.

Anyway, the lack of services was not the major problem. I was content to sit, eat a Kit Kat bar, wait, and read my book. (1959: The Year Everything Changed, by Fred Kaplan, about which I’ll say more in a future post.) What I wasn’t content to do was listen to the two booming announcements on the overhead loudspeakers that repeated every 4 minutes or so in a woman’s monotonic voice. The first one welcomed us to New York’s JFK and warned us not to accept solicitations of rides from unofficial drivers. The second welcomed us to Terminal 5. I took to plugging my ears, but that didn’t work. Or walking outside the moment the first one started, getting some fresh air, which was good, breathing bus exhaust, staying under cover to avoid the heavy rains, and disrupting my reading.

The T5 arrival level was pretty quiet, except for a mixed group of 25 Hasidic and orthodox (non-Hasidic) Jews roaming around killing time, much as I was doing. They weren’t waiting for Joel. I don’t know what they were doing. Pacing, coming together into small groups and then breaking up, sitting, wandering into the JetBlue baggage service office, walking purposefully in one direction or another. And sometimes a group would sit down where I had most recently landed after one of my walks outside. I was curious to listen in on some of their conversations, but it didn’t do much for my reading.

Eventually, of course, Joel arrived, freeing me of my struggles. Off we went to the car, out of the garage, away from JFK, and onto the Belt Parkway, which, even at 8:30 PM on a Thursday night, was backed up by traffic.

It was good to be home.

*By the way, the new Terminal 5, if you haven’t seen it and don’t know, is built behind old Terminal 5, which is none other than the great TWA terminal designed by Eero Saarinen. It shut down in 2001, when TWA did. The image above shows how the new terminal fits against the historic one. The famous tubes are still intact, now connecting Saarinen’s soaring structure to the new terminal, but they aren’t currently functional.

According to JetBlue’s website, “At T5, you’ll have the opportunity to experience aviation history, and soon, you will have the option to walk through this classic modernist building, to enter Terminal 5. The Saarinen building is not currently open to the public, however the Port Authority of NY & NJ is working on building renovations finding a new tenant for the space.” Grammar of that last phrase aside, I don’t know how to interpret the passage. They’ve re-routed traffic to lead behind the old terminal to reach the new one directly, so I don’t know why one would enter the old one to get to the new one. I hope something good happens.

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Categories: Architecture, Family, Travel
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