History of JFK International Airport

Planes on the runway
Planes on the runway

John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York is one of the busiest passenger airports in the United States. Yet it was designed only to relieve overflow from the nearby, crowded LaGuardia Airport. Today, JFK is one of the most recognizable airports in the world.

Idlewild Airport

The original name of JFK Airport was Idlewild Airport. It was named, when construction began in 1942, for the Idlewild Golf Course that the airport was built on. The initial planned size of the airport was only 1,000 acres. The airport was planned as a relief to the overcrowded LaGuardia Airport, already too busy for its size.


The airport was renamed Major General Alexander E. Anderson Airport in 1943, after a Queens resident. He was a member of the National Guard who died in World War II in 1942. In March 1948, the New York City Council again changed the name of the airport to New York International Airport, Anderson Field. Most people still called the airport Idlewild Airport until 1963.

Planes on the runway
Planes on the runway

Becoming JFK Airport

The airport was renamed the John F. Kennedy International Airport in December 1963. The renaming was in honor of the assassinated president, who was killed one month earlier. Since 1963, the airport has been known by the abbreviation JFK Airport to many travelers.

JFK Airport Today

JFK Airport is managed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency that oversees bridges, tunnels, bus terminals, airports and seaports in New York City and New Jersey. The airport includes eight terminals and provides services to almost 80 domestic, international and charter airlines. Approximately 50 million passengers a year pass through JFK Airport.

Terminal 4 at JFK Airport
Terminal 4 at JFK Airport

Economics of JFK

JFK Airport generates over $30 billion a year, including over 35,000 jobs at the airport and almost $10 billion a year in salaries.

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