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A sky-high look at the glamorous age of aviation

Emily Gilbert

What’s on the 86th floor of One World Trade Center? A recreation of a vintage TWA lounge.

By Globe Staff 

NEW YORK — It’s hard to know where to look first.

The view from the 86th floor of One World Trade Center is breathtaking and grand. In the words of Barbra Streisand, on a clear day you can see forever. Well, not technically forever, but at least parts of the tri-state area.

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But this corner space on the 86th floor also houses mid-century memorabilia from the late, great Trans World Airlines, better known as TWA. Dubbed the TWA lounge, this mini museum in the sky is eye candy for aviation geeks and those who love all things vintage.

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The lounge, which is accessible by appointment, is filled with classic TWA flight attendant uniforms, David Klein’s gorgeous 1950s destination posters, cocktail stirrers, branded cigarettes, carry-on bags, and beverage carts with cans of Tab.

The sleek space is a teaser for the TWA Hotel that will open next year at JFK International Airport. The hotel will be housed in architect Eero Saarinen’s celebrated neo-futuristic 1962 TWA Flight Center. The terminal, which resembles a gorgeously-designed spaceship, closed along with TWA in 2001. It was added to the US National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

For those who can’t wait for the hotel, the One World Trade Center lounge offers a taste of Saarinen’s legendary sunken lounge in miniature, complete with the chili pepper-red carpet. The World Trade Center TWA lounge channels Saarinen’s iconic 1962 terminal with rounded walls to mirror the curved design of the world-renowned architect’s flight center. A reception desk and analog departures display were also constructed to recall the mid-century aesthetic. Banquettes face floor-to-ceiling windows, while a telescope points directly at the under-construction TWA Hotel at JFK in Queens.

MCR Development is behind the $265 million hotel project, which will include a complete refurbishment of the 1962 terminal and its two airport tunnels, and two new hotel wings with 505 guest rooms. The hotel will also have eight restaurants, six bars, a 10,000-square-foot rooftop observation deck with pool, and a 200,000-square-foot lobby. The memorabilia currently on display on the 86th floor at the WTC will make its way into a museum celebrating the Jet Age, which will be located in the massive lobby.

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For those who miss flight attendants in pill box hats and in-flight smoking, the TWA lounge offers a nostalgic look back. More enticing, however, is the look forward it provides into the chic TWA Hotel. To make an appointment to visit the lounge, e-mail 1WTC@twahotel.com. A reservation is required to see the space.


Christopher Muther can be reached at muther@globe.com
Follow him on Twitter @Chris_Muther
and Instagram @Chris_Muther.