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All you need to know about Rockefeller Center’s attractions, history, and architecture

Rockefeller Center, located in Midtown Manhattan, is a sprawling commercial complex and cultural landmark located in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Home to the iconic Top of the...

Also Known As

Metropolitan Square

Founded On

1939

Founded By

John D. Rockefeller Jr.

Quick information

RECOMMENDED DURATION

5+ hours

NUMBER OF ENTRANCES

2

EXPECTED WAIT TIME - STANDARD

0-30 mins (Peak), 0-30 mins (Off Peak)

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Did you know?

A self-financed Project: The Rockefeller Center stands as a testament to vision and financial prowess. Despite the economic downturn during the Great Depression, he personally financed the project, turning it into a symbol of resilience and determination.

A hub of art and culture: The center is a hub of art and culture, housing over 100 sculptures and mosaics created by 39 different artists. The renowned statue of Atlas and the prominent friezes on the site were the work of Lee Lawrie, who has the most number of pieces in the center.

From botanical garden to iconic landmark: The land that the Rockefeller Center occupies today was once a botanical garden. David Hosack, a local physician, bought the land from the city of New York in 1801 for $4,800 and transformed it into a garden. This piece of rural land has since evolved into an iconic landmark in the heart of New York City.




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Why visit the Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center
  • Art Deco Dream: Rockefeller Center is a time capsule of 1930s architecture, boasting intricate details and fascinating stories waiting to be uncovered on a guided tour.
  • Open-Air Art Extravaganza: Over 100 permanent art installations transform Rockefeller Center into a stunning gallery. Spot sculptures, murals, and the Channel Gardens' vibrant seasonal displays.
  • Behind the Scenes Buzz: Peek into the world of television with an NBC Studios tour. See iconic sets from your favorite shows, witness live tapings, or be dazzled by the legendary Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall.
  • Shopaholic's Playground: Luxury awaits on Fifth Avenue with iconic brands like Chanel. For a more diverse selection, explore the unique shops within Rockefeller Center.
  • Seasonal Spectacle: Rockefeller Center offers something year-round. Skate on the rink under the Christmas tree, admire spring blooms, enjoy the summer rink-turned-restaurant, or be captivated by the fall foliage.

Attractions at the Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center
Rockefeller Center

The Rink

The Rink at Rockefeller Center is a classic NYC ice skating experience. Open seasonally, it’s located in the heart of Rockefeller Center and is accompanied by the iconic backdrop of the famous Prometheus statue. The Rink offers a variety of ticket packages, including a VIP Skating experience and skating lessons for kids. It’s a favorite among locals and tourists alike, drawing over 150,000 skaters annually. Whether you’re a seasoned skater or a beginner, it’s a fun experience for all ages.

Rockefeller Center
Rockefeller Center

Rainbow Hall

The Rainbow Room is a fine dining restaurant and event space located on the 65th floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Known for its glamorous setting and panoramic city views, it’s a popular spot for special occasions. The Rainbow Room has been a part of New York City’s dining scene since 1934, making it a historic culinary landmark. It offers classic and contemporary American cuisine. The Rainbow Room is also known for its Sunday brunch and live music.

Rockefeller Center

Radio City Music Hall

Radio City Music Hall is an entertainment venue located in Rockefeller Center. Known as the “Showplace of the Nation,” it’s famous for its annual Christmas Spectacular starring the Radio City Rockettes. The Music Hall has a seating capacity of 5,960, making it one of the largest indoor theaters in the U.S. It’s also home to the largest stage curtain in the world. The venue hosts a variety of events, including concerts, stage shows, and special events.

Rockefeller Center

Channel Gardens

The Channel Gardens, (named after the English Channel as they separate the British Empire Building and La Maison Française) is a beautiful outdoor space located between the British and French buildings at Rockefeller Center, featuring seasonal floral displays. The Gardens and six pools each with a large fountainhead sculpture, designed by Rene Paul Chambellan.

Rockefeller Center

The Tour at NBC Studios

The Tour at NBC Studios offers a behind-the-scenes look at some of NBC’s most popular shows. It’s a unique opportunity for television fans to see where their favorite shows are made. The tour takes you through the halls of NBC’s New York operations, giving you a glimpse of the production process. You might even catch a glimpse of some of your favorite NBC stars. The tour promises a great experience for anyone interested in television production.

Brief history the Rockefeller Center

The Rockefeller Center, an iconic landmark in New York City, was born out of a vision to create a city within a city during the Great Depression. John D. Rockefeller Jr., the driving force behind this project, leased the land from Columbia University in 1928 and ventured on a journey to transform the city’s landscape.

  • 1931: Tradition of Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree begins, becoming a symbol of holiday cheer.
  • 1932: Construction of Rockefeller Center commences amidst economic hardship.
  • 1933: The first buildings of the Center open to the public, offering hope and resilience during challenging times.
  • 1934: Rainbow Room opens as the highest-elevated restaurant of its time, providing a unique dining experience.
  • 1936: Rockefeller Center skating pond opens, quickly becoming a popular recreational spot.
  • 1939: Core of Rockefeller Center completed, standing as a symbol of innovation and architectural excellence.

Over the years, the Center has evolved into a hub of culture, art, and entertainment, adding significance to the city's landscape. It is home to numerous shops, restaurants, and offices, including the headquarters of NBC and the famous Radio City Music Hall. The Rockefeller Center continues to grow, offering new experiences and attractions for visitors to enjoy.

Who Built the Rockefeller Center

The Rockefeller Center was developed by John D. Rockefeller Jr. in the 1930s. The land, which was owned by Columbia University, was leased to Rockefeller in 1928.

Architecture of the Rockefeller Center

The Rockefeller Center is a marvel of modern architecture and urban planning. Its design is a testament to the collaborative efforts of a team of architects with expertise in various fields. The center’s design superbly demonstrates how tall buildings can be seamlessly integrated into the cityscape.

30 Rockefeller Plaza, originally called the RCA Building and now known as either 30 Rock or the Comcast Building, is the centerpiece of the complex. This Art Deco masterpiece designed by Raymond Hood exudes elegance with its clean lines and impressive height. Its limestone entrance rises above its neighbors in a series of stepped verticals, with aluminum spandrels creating a vertical pattern of lines that emphasize the building’s height.

The center boasts a remarkable collection of art in almost all of its buildings, its expansive underground concourse, its ice-skating rink, and its annual lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. The center is a ‘city within a city’, housing corporate headquarters, offices, television studios, theaters, shops, and restaurants. Its status as a National Historic Landmark is a recognition of its architectural significance and its role in shaping the city’s identity.

Frequently asked questions about the Rockefeller Center

What is there to do or see at the Rockefeller Center?

The Rockefeller Center is a complex of 19 commercial buildings covering 22 acres in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. It includes Radio City Music Hall, art installations, an ice-skating rink, and hosts various businesses and television studios.

What facilities are available in the Rockefeller Center?

The Rockefeller Center offers various facilities, including businesses, television studios, shopping and dining options, art installations, an expansive underground concourse, and an ice-skating rink.

Are there any special events at Rockefeller Center?

Yes, Rockefeller Center hosts various special events throughout the year. These include concerts, art exhibitions, and seasonal events like the Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

Are there food options at Rockefeller Center?

Yes, the Rockefeller Center offers a wide range of dining options. It hosts a variety of over 40 restaurants, cafes, and food outlets offering diverse culinary experiences.

Is the Rockefeller Center wheelchair accessible?

Yes, Rockefeller Center is wheelchair accessible. There are elevators to all levels and ramps throughout the complex.

Why is the Rockefeller Center important?

The Rockefeller Center, built during the Great Depression, is a symbol of hope and progress. Its unique blend of Art Deco and Modernist styles makes it a notable example of early 20th-century design. The center is also known for its extensive artwork, innovative features like parking garages and centralized heating systems, and its annual Christmas tree lighting event.

How old is the Rockefeller Center?

The construction of the Rockefeller Center began in 1931 and the first buildings were opened in 1933. The core of the complex was completed by 1939. So, as of 2024, the Rockefeller Center is approximately 85 years old.

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