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A Historic Landmark in NYC►
Most Americans have seen Rockefeller Center in December during the televised annual Christmas tree lighting. The Center is more than its central sunken plaza with its ice skating rink and 60-foot statue of Prometheus. It is a complex of 19 commercial buildings today. The original 14 buildings comprise 12 acres or six city blocks. Rockefeller Center received National Historic Landmark designation in 1987.
The land was once owned by Columbia University. When Columbia moved its main campus uptown, John D. Rockefeller seized the opportunity to create a cultural development there. He originally envisioned it as the new home for the Metropolitan Opera.
The opera company couldn’t pay for the move after the Stock Market crash, so the complex’s design changed. Rockefeller opened the first building in 1933 and completed the others in 1939. It was the largest development project of the Great Depression era.
A section of Rockefeller Center became known as Radio City, an integrated media complex of theaters and corporate offices for RCA. It includes Radio City Music Hall, the theater where the Rockettes perform their famous kick-line. The 30-Rock building, home to NBC Studios, is also part of Radio City.
Rockefeller Center is distinguished by an art-deco style. The facades are Indiana Limestone which ties the original 14 buildings together. Sculptures abound, like Atlas holding up the world in the courtyard of the International Building at 45 Rockefeller Plaza. This statue faces St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Top of the Rock►
For a bird’s eye view, get a ticket to the Top of the Rock. The observation platform on the roof of 30 Rockefeller Plaza is designed to look like an ocean liner and provides 360 degree views of New York City. I visited it a few years ago with a photography group at dusk, in between thunderstorms. At 70 stories, it is not the tallest building in midtown. But it is a perfect point of view for the taller buildings against the skyline, like the nearby Empire State Building.
Location: 45 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10111
Designation: National Historic Landmark
Date designated or established: December 23, 1987
Date of my visit: 8/1/2014