Secret Airport

Yesterday it was 82 degrees in New Orleans. Today it is 42 degrees, grey, and windy. It’s still winter. That makes sense in Chicago, or Boise, but here in the Crescent City you can forget that on Wednesday and be slapped right back into reality on Thursday. Wham bam. No thank you ma’am! Bring back my sunshine!

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I know my sunshine will be back soon though because “bringing things back” is a New Orleans specialty these days. Everywhere I look I see construction, reconstruction, and even destruction with the intent to reconstruct. It’s the Reconstruction Junction!

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My friend Joy is a Reconstruction Junction Junkie. She drove me around again today pointing out the renewal that is slowly but surely spreading all over the city. New restaurants and groceries on Broad, houses coming back in Gentilly, and then she asked if I wanted to go see what she calls “the Secret Airport.”

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Do monkeys fly? Of course I wanted to see it!

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Originally known as the Shushan Airport, now the New Orleans Lakefront Airport, this airport built on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain in the 1930’s was New Orleans’ main airport until the bigger Louis Armstrong Airport was built in 1946.

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For decades it’s beauty was hidden behind false walls. It suffered through many hurricanes and after Katrina the damage was so extensive to the “pill box” facade added during the Cuban Missle Crisis, that a complete restoration to it’s original form was deemed necessary. The restoration was completed in 2013. You can see a little video about it here.

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There are 8 murals by Xavier Gonzales depicting the story of flight which appear to be somewhat, but not fully, restored. Many of them have a kind of papery covering which made for some interesting photographs…

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but doesn’t really allow you to see their full glory — and glorious is actually the least hyperbolic way to describe this restored treasure.

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So, now that you’re in on the “secret airport” too, feel free to share it with everyone. New Orleans is chock full of secrets like this and I’m looking forward to finding out more of them with my intrepid guide, Reconstruction Junction Junkie Joy!