Old Terminal, New Purpose

The Port Authority wants to transform the sleek TWA terminal at JFK International Airport into a small hotel with a complex of stores and eateries:

After a bankrupt TWA was bought by American Airlines in 2001, the terminal closed. Jet-Blue Airways eventually built a new facility around the Saarinen-designed building. Since then, it has sat empty. Attempts to find a tenant fell short. So in 2008, the Port Authority decided to spend $20 million to remove asbestos and restore the interior to better appeal to developers.

Most of the story is behind WSJ’s pay wall but you can click over to the slideshow.

I hope they do something with it; the spy-jazz curves of the terminal scream for a restaurant and bar, and with most airport saloons nowadays kept past security, it’s often tough to find a place to meet when picking up or dropping off. It would definitely tilt my preference toward Jet Blue when booking if I could begin or end my journey with some Dr. No ambiance not unlike that of the Encounter at LAX.

But what’s notable here is that the Port Authority is actually investing in a historic property. By bringing it up to modern standards, they’ve reduced the risk for potential first-time tenants, who would otherwise have to do that work on their own or at least negotiate renovations with the PA, both of which would cost money the tenant may not recoup. And, even if the tenant should fail or leave, the terminal will still be usable by future tenants, keeping the PA on track to eventually see a return on that $20 million. This stands in contrast to the litigious breed of preservationist, who refuses to spend for anything beyond lawyers’ fees but then acts confused when no one wants to purchase a leaky, asbestos-filled ruin.

Historic preservation doesn’t require lawsuits or special designations of status. It’s very easy. If you want to save an old building, all you have to do is buy it and take care of it.

From the Halls of Massapequa to the Shores of Port Jeff

Michael Trinklein, author of the book currently topping my Amazon queue, says the scheme for Long Island to break from New York has legs:

Seceding from the nation is illegal and, practically speaking, impossible. But seceding from a state to form a new state is allowed by the U.S. Constitution — and the specifications are straightforward. Article IV Section 3 says a proposal first needs to get the approval of the existing state legislature. Dozens of plans have been debated in statehouses over the years, and in a handful of cases, legislatures have passed measures to split their states. In 1819, for example, the Massachusetts legislature voted to release its northern district — unconnected to the rest of the state — to become the new state of Maine.

Trinklein goes on to argue that potentially liberal new states — likely to send more Democrats to Washington — need to pair themselves with conservative secession attempts elsewhere to encourage bipartisan Congressional approval. That’s reminiscent of state-making efforts early in our country’s history, when the southern states agitated for the creation of Kentucky and Tennessee to balance the addition of abolitionist Vermont.

Trinklein’s essay in the WSJ here. Me on Lawng Island secession here.

Lost States has a bonus backstory further endearing it to my heart: the original edition was self-published. Yet more disproof of the corporate lie that self-publishing is harmful to a writer’s career.

Give Me Armband Tattoos or Give Me Death

During a visit to Long Island last weekend, my in-laws were grousing about their high taxes and the proposal to make it easier to dissolve villages, which would reduce local control. My brother-in-law argued Nassau and Suffolk counties should secede from New York and become their own state.

Apparently he isn’t alone:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Long Island Wants to Secede

As someone who went to school upstate, worked in NYC, and married a Long Island girl, I’ve always found New York’s personality to be apples and oranges and bananas. For one or more of those selves to break away isn’t as crazy as it might seem.

Though it may not matter in the end. I think my in-laws are moving to Florida.

More 51st-state talk here.