Rockefeller Center

sights / Architecture

Rockefeller Center information

New York City , USA
Fifth to Sixth Aves & 48th to 51st Sts
Getting there
Subway: B/D/F/M to 47th-50th Sts-Rockefeller Center
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This 22-acre 'city within a city' debuted at the height of the Great Depression. Taking nine years to build, it was America's first multiuse retail, entertainment and office space – a sprawl of 19 buildings (14 of which are the original moderne structures). Developer John D Rockefeller Jr may have sweated over the $100 million price tag, but it was worth it, the center declared a National Landmark in 1987. Highlights include the Top of the Rock observation deck and NBC Studio Tours .

The Rockefeller Center is also graced with the creations of 30 great artists, commissioned around the punchy theme ‘Man at the Crossroads Looks Uncertainly But Hopefully at the Future.’ Paul Manship contributed Prometheus , overlooking the sunken plaza, and Atlas , in front of the International Building (630 Fifth Ave). Isamu Noguchi's News sits above the entrance to the Associated Press Building (50 Rockefeller Plaza), while José Maria Sert's oil American Progress awaits in the lobby of the GE Building. The latter work replaced Mexican artist Diego Rivera's original painting, rejected by the Rockefellers for containing ‘communist imagery.’

Come the festive season, Rockefeller Plaza is where you'll find New York's most famous Christmas tree. Ceremoniously lit just after Thanksgiving, it's a tradition that dates back to the 1930s, when construction workers set up a small tree on the site. In its shadow, Rink at Rockefeller Center is the city's most famous ice-skating rink. Incomparably magical, it's also undeniably small and crowded. Opt for the first skating period (8.30am) to avoid a long wait. Come summer, the rink becomes a cafe.