The mammoth facility now known as John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) was once known as Idlewild Airport. Idlewild, officially designated as New York International Airport, Anderson Field, received its first commercial flight on July 1, 1948. It was renamed after the late President Kennedy on December 24, 1963, just one month after he was assassinated in Dallas.
Life magazine photographer Dmitri Kessel traveled to Idlewild in 1961 to capture some outstanding photographs of the facility for their September 22 issue. What he found — especially with the interiors — was a marvel of mid-century decor and airlines gone by. To look at this photo gallery is to walk right into an episode of Mad Men. So grab your fedora and your suitcase, and let’s go to Idlewild!