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See the insides of rifles, handguns, automatic weapons, etc.

Idlewild JFK Original Air Traffic Control Tower Cutaway

Originally called Idlewild Airport, it was renamed JFK Airport in 1963, after the President’s assassination.

This workman-like, competent but hardly spectacular cutaway illustration by Sloane shows the 11-story so-called “supertower” that allowed air traffic controllers in the early Fifties to track and guide up to 1,000 aircraft a day (real capacity was likely much less).

At the time, Idlewild was nine times larger than its sister airport, La Guardia.  It became so difficult for controllers to maintain control of air traffic at the massive 4,900 acre Idlewild that sometimes, Popular Science reports, a jeep with a tw0-way radio would be sent out to the runways to communicate with controllers at the old tower.

Source:  Popular Science, June 1952

This was real, not Fifties fantasy:  a building heated by atomic energy.

Appropriately enough, the building, located in Harwell, England, was the center for that nation’s atomic research.  Waste heat from the nicknamed “Bepo,” one of the atomic piles, was diverted to heat the 330,000 cubic foot/80 office building.  The system cost $42,000, but it was estimated that it would save $7,500 per year in heating bills.

Click to Enlarge to 850 x 693 px:

Atomic-Powered Heating System for Building 1952

Atomic-Powered Heating System for Building 1952

Source:  Popular Science February 1952

When this cutaway first appeared, the intended structure was still called the International Music Hall, as part of Rockefeller Center, New York, NY.  Later, it became known as Radio City Music Hall.

Quite a juicy early Thirties two-color cutaway spread across two pages.  I tried my best to mate the two pages, and I got the top and bottom fine but the middle doesn’t meet up very well.

This is one cutaway that really needs to be seen in its full, blown-up grandeur, below.

Click to Enlarge to 1613 x 1045 px:

Radio City Music Hall Cutaway 1930

Radio City Music Hall Cutaway 1930


Elevator-Style Garage Car Park Cutaway, 1920

Elevator-Style Garage Car Park Cutaway, 1920

Elevator-style car parks were still quite a novelty when this cutaway was published in 1920.

The garage shown could hold 6x the number of cars that a comparable, ordinary garage could hold.

This garage was basically all elevators:  42 elevators that retained the cars during the stay rather than off-loading them.  Each elevat0r could hold 7 cars, for a total of 294 cars per garage.

Source:  Popular Science Monthly February 1920

This TV studio in Chicago had one problem:  it was located in the same building as printing presses for the Chicago Tribune.  Vibration from the rumbling presses would compromise TV production.

Solution:  float the studio on air.

Rubber bags, each 14 x 30 inches, were inflated and placed under the flooring.  The bags elevated the floor 1/4 inch.

Click to Enlarge Image to 1019 x 677 px:

Cutaway of TV Studio Floating on Air, 1950

Cutaway of TV Studio Floating on Air, 1950

Source:  Popular Mechanics November 1950

Department Store Cutaway

Click to Enlarge Image

Yet another mind-blowing cutaway from master illustrator Frank Soltesz.

Few people realize that half of a department store is devoted to areas they never see.  Behind the familiar counter and displays are large areas used for stockrooms and other services that supply the selling floors out front.  there is a fur vault, complete bake shop, huge kitchen, and a variety of workrooms.  Each one is a little business in itself, and many of them need a lot of heat and cold in order to operate.  To control all this heat and cold, they use insulations, the kind of insulations made and installed by the Armstrong Cork Company.

This illustration comes from a Saturday Evening Post from the 1950s, and has a key so that readers can find out what each room does:

That’s why you’ll find such a large machine room (1) down in the basement.  Here boilers make steam, and compressors cool a refrigerant.  Both the steam and the refrigerant are sent to the rooftop penthouse (2) to heat or cool air which is then blown all through the store in a network of ducts.

Everything about Soltesz cutaways is pitch-perfect.  Mood, shadows, people: all the things that many illustrators leave out Soltesz does in force.  Note the side action with the traffic cop and the steam pipes coming out off the cutaway ground:

Department Store Cutaway Detail

Office Building Ventilation Cutaway

One of the great things about the old Fortune magazine was how it often treated extremely mundane subjects with great wonder and awe.  Not only would they profile the high-level anticts of John D. Rockefeller, William Randolph Hearst, and Henry Ford, but they would take things down to the opposite end of the spectrum and highlight things like the inner workings of an oil well in one of Rockefeller’s fields or the daily routine of one of Hearst’s low-level stringers.

This office building cutaway actually calls itself an “X-ray” of an air conditioning system, and I am not completely certain of its original source in Fortune.  I’d guess that it came with some kind of profile of a giant, national air conditioning company, perhaps Carrier.

Not at all the loving detail of the American Standard advertisement I blogged about previously, but interesting nonetheless.


This great cutaway originally comes from a July 5, 1947 Saturday Evening Post ad for Armstrong’s Industrial Insulation.  For an extra-sized view, click here and then click a second time on the magnifying glass.

The ad says, in part:

When you look behind the scenes, a modern hotel is an astounding place.  Few guests appreciate that their comfort demands such a complex and highly mechanized institution.  The men (1) who ordered ice probably don’t know that there’s a complete ice-making plant (12) hidden away in the basement.  The dancers in the ballroom (5) don’t stop to think what it takes to provide air conditioning (11).  Touch a spigot (2) and ice water spurts out.  Turn a valve (4) and heat is waiting.  Heat and cold flow through the hotel like lifeblood in its veins.  Insulation on the pipes makes it economically possible to put heat and cold where they are needed.

Cutaways don’t get any better than this one.  I’m trying to be an upright and honest Web citizen, but I cannot find the attribution for this photo.  Here is the original source.