Exploring the old TWA Terminal: A relic of a bygone era of jet travel

Airports today may be considered busy thoroughfares unworthy of a second look.

But the abandoned TWA Terminal at New York's John F. Kennedy airport is not only an amazing work of architecture-- but a unique time capsule that highlights the golden age of jet travel.

The TWA Terminal was completed in 1962 and during its heyday millions of passengers passed through angled doorways and traversed down the distinctive curvy halls.  It was closed in 2001 and is now likely destined to be renovated into a boutique hotel after being cleared of  asbestos. Several developers, including JetBlue have been eyeing the property.

On assignment for a feature in Curbed NY, Max Touhey, a New York City-based photographer, captured hundreds of photos of the terminal's lounges, stairways, and hallways.

"I’ve photographed some very unique spaces, mostly in New York, but none as sleek and timeless as this terminal.  It’s a mix of architecture, aviation history, and personal sentiment that I doubt I’ll find elsewhere ," Touhey told FoxNews.com. He also noted that it was fascinating to consider that "this was done before computers and architectural software and 50 years later it still feel like you’re in the 'Jetsons'."

Touhey also photographed Lori Walters, assistant professor with the Institute for Simulation and Training and Department of History at the University of Central Florida, who is working to preserve the structure of the building through 3D scans of the space that will eventually be turned into a living museum for future generations to share.

“This is one of finest examples of the jet age and modern architecture. And it's important to preserve the structure as it existed when it was in use, so people who will never be able to go to New York can experience what it was like to travel during that period,” Walters explained.

Walters and her team will also spend the next several months soliciting photos and oral histories from travelers and workers who used the terminal.

"Once I have those photographs and those memories—everyone will be better able to understand the evolution of travel through the years," she said.

The TWA Terminal was built at a time when flying became a mode of transport for the masses—not just the wealthy and businessmen and women of the day.  And whatever its future purpose, Walters is confident that any renovations done to the structure will continue to celebrate the integrity of the building.

“There are wonderful curvilinear lines, the beautiful staircases, the large red lounge,” Walters said. “Whatever firm is granted the contract, I’m sure they will keep the preservation of these features in mind. Making it into a hotel may even grant more people a chance to experience this unique architecture up close.”

Check out Touhey's breathtaking photos of the TWA terminal, preserved by the Port Authority. Dozens of additional snapshots can be seen on Curbed NY's feature.