Discovering the New Orleans Lakefront Airport
Growing up in New Orleans, I didn’t see anything unless an adult was going there. We never went to the Lakefront Airport. When I finally was driving myself, there was no reason to go there. There was only this ugly sixties style building that had never been in style, even when it was new. I did go once to see the “Fountain of the Winds” by Enrique Alferez, which always seemed to be so completely out of place next to that monstrosity of a terminal. But yesterday, online, I saw this fantastic sculpture that I discovered had been hidden since the early sixties by concrete panels they had added to make the terminal into a bomb shelter! Who knew?
The airport was built during Huey Long’s administration in the mid-1930’s, and designed by the same architect that did the Louisiana state capital building. The capital building in Baton Rouge is hard to beat…maybe Nebraska’s is a little more exciting to fans of Art Deco, but it is a toss up. So this airport is a pretty amazing place. And the people that are restoring it seem to be doing a very classy job of it. The airport was one of the first major terminals of the period. On their website, they have an interview with a woman whose father took her on a commercial flight departing from Shushan Airport (the original name). Even as a child, she was impressed by the splendor of the terminal building. During their flight the weather was so bad, they had to make an emergency landing in Atlanta. She describes how the airport workers escorted them across the field with umbrellas, into their terminal, which was a small clapboard house. The contrast between the two buildings had stuck with her all these years.
So, this is something I have just found out about. I will make a trip to see what is going on, and if possible I will post some more pictures. I do know they are renting the building for special events, and it was used in the movie The Green Lantern as the headquarters of the Ferris Aircraft Company. Now I will have to rent that movie.
Enrique Alferez “Fountain of the Winds” at the New Orleans Lakefront Airport