45 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10111, USA
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What is Rockefeller Center?
Rockefeller Center is an iconic complex of commercial buildings in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Known for its stunning Art Deco architecture and cultural significance, it's a beacon of entertainment, media, and business. The center is comprised of 19 buildings and is spread across 22 acres, boasting some of the city's most beloved landmarks, including the famous ice-skating rink, an observation deck called Top of the Rock, and the annual Christmas tree lighting that has become a national tradition.
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The GE Building, also known as 30 Rockefeller Plaza, stands as the centerpiece of this urban marvel. At the base of this skyscraper, you'll find the iconic studios of NBC, where legendary shows like "Saturday Night Live" and "The Tonight Show" are brought to life. Rockefeller Center isn't just a group of buildings; it's a symbol of New York City's relentless spirit of innovation and ambition.
History of Rockefeller Center
The story of Rockefeller Center begins amidst the economic turmoil of the Great Depression. Spearheaded by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the complex was an enormous private building project that illustrated prevailing optimism in a time of economic struggle. Construction began in 1931, and despite the economic conditions, Rockefeller's vision for a grand "city within a city" took shape, featuring the innovative use of "setback" architecture that became a model for skyscrapers thereafter.
Originally intended to house an opera house for the Metropolitan Opera, the plans changed drastically with the rise of radio and television. The inclusion of Radio City, home to the famous Radio City Music Hall, and the RCA Building (now the GE Building) meant Rockefeller Center became an epicenter for media and entertainment. The center officially opened in 1933 and has been a fixture of New York's landscape ever since.
Why is Rockefeller Center Important?
Rockefeller Center holds a special place in the heart of New Yorkers and visitors alike for numerous reasons. It represents a fusion of art, commerce, and innovation. The Center showcases some of the finest examples of Art Deco art and architecture, which perfectly encapsulate the period in American history when it was built. It's a place where business thrives, with numerous offices and headquarters calling it home.
Moreover, Rockefeller Center serves as a cultural hub. The annual lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is a holiday spectacle that brings together citizens from all walks of life. Not to mention, the public art scattered throughout the plaza, including the statue of Atlas and the gilded Prometheus overlooking the ice rink, provides a museum-like experience in an open, public space.
Things to Do & See at Rockefeller Center
When visiting Rockefeller Center, the opportunities to explore and enjoy are vast. A trip to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck offers sweeping panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline, including unobstructed sights of the Empire State Building and Central Park. During the winter months, lace up your skates and glide across the famous ice rink, a quintessential New York experience.
If you're keen on entertainment history, join one of the NBC Studio Tours to get a behind-the-scenes look at some of television's most iconic programs. Art enthusiasts will appreciate the numerous Art Deco statues and murals throughout the center, including works by artists such as Isamu Noguchi and Josep Maria Sert. And, of course, no visit is complete without exploring the shops and dining options—ranging from casual eateries to high-end dining spread throughout the center.
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From surprising seasonal events, like the summer farmer's market and outdoor film screenings, to holiday traditions that are broadcast across the country, Rockefeller Center always has something new for you to discover. Did you know that secret passageways and private gardens hide amongst these famous facades? It's these little-known tidbits that add an air of mystery and discovery to every visit, and why Rockefeller Center is not just a must-see but a must-experience in New York City.