The Hindenburg over New York, still a startling sight

Taken during one of its 1936 voyages, with the New York Times building in the foreground. (source: straatis/Flickr)

The anniversary of the 1937 explosion of the German¬†passenger airship Hindenburg over Lakehurst, NJ, was last Friday, May 6, and I spent some time this weekend looking up old videos of the famous Zeppelin floating over Manhattan. Sure, we occasionally get blimps over the city; who can forget the Conan O’Brien-themed airship last year? But the German-built Hindenburg was the largest and most luxurious air conveyance of its day.

And fated for a short life. Its first appearance over New York was on May 9, 1936. Less than a year later, it would explode over the New Jersey air station runway, killing 36 people, a disaster accompanied by the world’s most famous freak-out by radio announcer Herbert Morrison.

The Hindenburg came to America a handful of times in 1936, including two complete roundtrip flights between Frankfurt, Germany, and Lakehurst in the month of May that year. [source]


This video shows a lot of mid-1930s New York. The Hindenburg makes an appearance at the 1:30 mark:

Yes, in case you were wondering, that is a set of swastikas on its vertical fins. Nazi insignia flying over New York during the 1930s!

Here’s an entire list of flights the German airship took during its short existence.¬† And here’s a link to an older Bowery Boys article on a New York history of blimps and zeppelins.