The first full cultural history of the ultimate modern structure: the airport, revealed as never before ...
Since its origins in the muddy fields of flying machines, the airport has arguably become one of the defining institutions of modern life. In Naked Airport, critic Alastair Gordon ranges from global geopolitics to action movies to the daily commute, showing how airports have changed our sense of time, distance, travel, style, and even the way cities are built and business is done.
Gordon introduces the people who shaped this place of sudden transportation: pilots like Charles Lindberg, architects like Eero Saarinen, politicians like Fiorello La Guardia, and Hitler, who built Berlin's Tempelhof as a showcase for Fascist power. He describes the airport's futuristic contributions, such as credit cards, in the form of fly-now-pay-later schemes, and he charts its shift in popular perception, from glamorous to infuriating. Finally, he analyzes the airport's function in war and peace—its gatekeeper role controlling immigration, its appeal to revolutionaries since the hijackings of the 1960s, and its new frontline position in the struggle against terror.
Compelling and accessible, Naked Airport is an original history of a long-neglected yet central creation of modern reality and imagination.
To today's air passenger patiently removing his or her shoes for the third time that day, swallowing overpriced fast food or slumping on chairs of sadistically molded plastic the world of travel depicted in Gordon's lively history will feel like a vanished Golden Age. In six chapters and an epilogue, Gordon, contributing editor for House and Garden and Dwell and author of Weekend Utopia, traces the evolution of the airport from the muddy fields of the 1910s to the "sterile concourses" of the '70s with an eclectic range of reference and an eye for detail. By the late '20s, high rollers could tour the capitals of Europe in two luxurious weeks, sunseekers could take flying boats from Miami to Havana in two hours and airports from Buffalo to Berlin's Tempelhof reflected widely varied strains of an optimistic and triumphant modernism. Much of this history is contained in the details of abandoned projects, and Gordon's unearthing of such grand schemes as "Toledo Tomorrow" add immeasurably to his narrative. Smoothly blending cultural and aesthetic history, Gordon's book is also helped by its 108 well chosen b&w illustrations and attractive design. Though the term "airport book" has other connotations, reading Gordon's book might just restore a little of air travel's vanished glamour... until the next checkpoint.