SEVERE WX : Heat Advisory View Alerts

Secrets of Rockefeller Center

This urban space seamlessly integrated into the fabric of midtown Manhattan, ...

Posted: Feb 13, 2018 5:33 PM
Updated: Feb 13, 2018 5:33 PM

This urban space seamlessly integrated into the fabric of midtown Manhattan, Rockefeller Center isn't one singular distinguished landmark.

Located between bustling Fifth and Sixth avenues and 48th and 51st streets, it's really a maze of prestigious buildings and attractions.

Built during the Great Depression by Standard Oil heir John D. Rockefeller Jr. in a notorious district of speakeasies and brothels, it anchored the city's building industry and employed thousands of laborers during its three-year construction phase starting in 1930.

In the depths of the Great Depression, the massive building project was a godsend to construction workers and their families around New York.

The now-iconic Rockefeller Christmas Tree was first raised without fanfare by those grateful workers in 1931, and it has been an annual tradition for decades.

Rockefeller's modern vision

Rockefeller's vision was to create a progressive urban symbol beyond anything that had previously existed. As planned, his eponymous complex did include commerce, entertainment and greenery, as well as then-uncommon luxuries such as an underground shopping concourse and an underground parking garage.

In addition, Rockefeller Center's visible collection of sculptures, motifs, fountains, mosaics and murals would set a new standard for public art. It does not include a mural by Mexican artist Diego Rivera, who was commissioned to paint a mural for the lobby of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. His finished work prominently depicted Vladimir Lenin, and the controversial piece was destroyed.

Rockefeller Center's history and legacy loom large.

Standing on the pedestrian promenade surrounded by lush plant installations and an even thicker crowd feels like being in the center of the world. It's so close to Radio City Music Hall you can practically hear the click of the Rockettes' tap shoes as they perform stratospheric kicks in perfect unison during the annual Christmas Spectacular.

Viewing the famed Christmas tree is New York City tradition on par with visiting the Statue of Liberty and the Yankees, but a visit is an essential part of the Big Apple experience anytime of the year.

Rockefeller Center Tour

The guided Rockefeller Center Tour is an excellent way for visitors to get their bearings. This 75-minute tour offers an overview of the architectural gems and impressive artwork. The upbeat guides pepper the presentation with historical and current facts in a thoroughly entertaining manner.

Tours are given daily from 10 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., scheduled every half hour excluding 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $25.

Rockefeller Center Tour, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112; +1(212) 698-2000

Watch 'The Today Show'

"The Today Show" on NBC is broadcast live each Monday-Saturday starting at 7 a.m. Visitors to Rockefeller Plaza may peek at the partially exposed street-level Studio 1A through the large windows.

During each broadcast, the anchors head out onto the plaza to mingle with the crowd. Those holding eye-catching posters and signs may garner the attention of the camera operators for a few seconds of television notoriety and occasional banter with the show's hosts.

To participate, RSVP on the website, pass through security and check-in with the Today Show ambassador. There is no cost for this rain or shine event. Arrive before 6:30 a.m. for a prime spot.

Studio 1A is located at 49th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues.

Top of the Rock Observation Deck

For unobstructed views of the New York City skyline and beyond, don't miss Top of the Rock. With decks on the 67th, 69th and 70th floors, visitors have their pick of sky-high panoramas.

On a clear day, Central Park, the double-decked George Washington Bridge and the steep cliffs of the New Jersey Palisades towering over the Hudson River are visible to the north. Look south for a sweeping vista of the Big Apple's iconic skyscrapers, including an up-close look at the Empire State Building and a glimpse of the Chrysler Building.

During the ear-popping elevator ride up, visitors are welcomed with a brief history lesson, with images of Rockefeller Center from the 1930s to present day projected on the glass ceiling.

Before entering, ticket holders go through a comprehensive security screening. No weapons, food or drinks are allowed. Tickets cost $34 for adults, $28 for kids 6-12, free for kids 5 and younger. Open 8 a.m. - midnight with the last elevator going up at 11:15 p.m.

Top of the Rock Observation Deck, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112; +1(212) 698-2000

The Rink at Rockefeller Center

This outdoor ice-skating rink is a midtown fixture. It enjoys a lengthy season from October to April, so it's not unusual to see skaters in shorts.

Under the golden glow of the bronze sculpture of Prometheus and surrounded by a United Nations of flying flags, the oval hosts over a quarter of a million skaters annually. Olympic figure skating champions such as the late Sonja Henie and Sarah Hughes have performed triple toe loops and double flips on the glassy surface.

Bathed by the lights of the Rockefeller Center tree during the holidays, expect a big crowd and a chaotic Grand Central Station-style atmosphere in December. There's more room to glide around the ice during the rest of the season. For plenty of space, the early morning session tends to draw a sparse crowd.

When it's too warm to skate, the rink is transformed into the Summer Garden & Bar at Rock Center Caf-, an upscale open-air lounge serving house-crafted cocktails and nibbles.

The rink is open daily in season, 8:30 a.m. - midnight. There's room for 150 skaters and general admission is on a first-come, first-served basis. Adult general admission is $25, rising to $27-$32 during the holidays. Kids 10 and under pay $15. During the height of the Christmas crowd, consider purchasing a reserved skating session with a VIP ticket, ranging from $60 to $150.

The Rink at Rockefeller Center, 600 5th Ave. between 49th and 50th Streets, New York, NY 10020; +(212) 332-7654

Exploring art

The bronze statue Atlas dominates the Rock's sculpture collection, weighing in at 14,000 pounds and standing 15 feet tall atop a 9-foot high pedestal. It can be found at the main entrance forecourt of 630 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10111.

Decorating the plaza's Channel Gardens are six fountainhead sculptures playfully spouting streams of water. The female fountainheads are Nereids, mythological daughters of the Greek sea god Nereus, while the male figures are attendants to the sea god.

For art with a more abstract feel, head to the lobby of the International Building. It's home to the contemporary sculpture Light and Movement by artist Michio Ihara. It consists of some sixteen hundred gold-hued metal leaves, each attached to a vertical cable. A soft haze of light is reflected through the prism of the moving metal, giving the otherwise business-like lobby a distinctively warm glow.

Light and Movement is located on the north and south walls of the main lobby of 630 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10111.

Shopping

Rockefeller Center is a shopper's paradise with over 100 diverse retail outlets. For those with a sweet tooth, there are several gourmet chocolate shops to tempt them.

Teuscher Chocolates import their confections from Switzerland. They pride themselves on using the finest natural ingredients with no chemicals or preservatives added. Don't even think about not sampling one of the decadent Champagne Truffles, its creamy Dom Perignon center enrobed with ganache and milk or dark chocolate. The light dusting of powdered sugar is perfection.

Teuscher Chocolates of Switzerland, 620 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10020; +1 (212) 246-4416

Where to stay nearby

Lotte New York Palace is a grand hotel steps from Rockefeller Center. Known for its spectacular views, it graciously blends the landmark Villard Mansion with a modern 55-story tower.

As an official partner of the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes, discounted packages are available to guests for the holiday show.

Lavish public spaces, guest rooms loaded with creature comforts and a doting staff are part of its year-round charm.

Lotte New York Palace, 455 Madison Avenue, New York, NY, 10022; +1 (212) 888-7000

Where to eat nearby

In a city that's a food-lover's fantasy, Rockefeller Center doesn't have a reputation as a culinary hot spot. Recently, The Sea Grill has taken its menu to the next level, hiring Chef Andy Bennett, previously executive chef at Michelin-starred Rouge Tomate.

The Sea Grill, 19 W. 49th St, New York, NY 10020; +1 (212) 332-7610

For a taste of bygone New York, Mendy's Kosher Delicatessen hits the spot. Jewish deli classics include a steaming bowl of rich chicken broth with fluffy matzo balls and a hulking pastrami sandwich served on chewy rye bread. Wash it down with a Dr. Brown's Cream Soda.

Mendy's Kosher Delicatessen, 37 West 48th Street, New York, NY 10020; +1 (212) 262-9600

Bar SixtyFive at Rainbow Room on the 65th floor has vintage charm to go with its dynamic views. Potent cocktails suit the Mad Men vibe. The fragrant Silver Slipper, made with vodka, cr-me de violette, vermouth, lemon juice and decorative silver leaf, won't disappoint. Jackets and collared shirts are expected for male patrons. Open on Monday-Friday, 5 p.m. to midnight, Sunday from 4 p.m. - 9 p.m. Closed on Saturday.

Bar SixtyFive at Rainbow Room, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112; +1 (212) 632-5000

Transportation

To get to Rockefeller Center, take the B, D, F and M to the 47th-50th Streets Rockefeller Center stop. The 1 train to 50th Street, the N, Q and R trains to 49th Street and the 6 train to 51st Street are nearby alternatives.

Rockefeller Center information line +1(212) 588-8601.

Huntsville
Scattered Clouds
94° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 98°
Florence
Clear
97° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 100°
Fayetteville
Scattered Clouds
91° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 94°
Decatur
Clear
93° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 96°
Scottsboro
Scattered Clouds
77° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 78°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 94827

Reported Deaths: 1674
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson12969243
Mobile9836206
Montgomery6609148
Madison531433
Tuscaloosa419073
Unassigned356061
Baldwin350224
Shelby326035
Marshall313035
Lee266045
Morgan236918
Etowah210431
DeKalb179813
Calhoun176113
Elmore171538
Walker152064
Houston138612
Russell13582
St. Clair132817
Dallas131823
Limestone131813
Franklin127020
Cullman122012
Colbert117113
Lauderdale115717
Autauga108621
Escambia107516
Talladega100913
Jackson9684
Tallapoosa85479
Chambers84038
Dale82723
Blount7884
Chilton7886
Butler75836
Coffee7566
Covington73420
Pike7037
Clarke6629
Barbour5735
Lowndes57124
Marion57024
Marengo55315
Hale47326
Bullock46311
Winston45011
Perry4404
Bibb4265
Wilcox42610
Monroe4194
Randolph39610
Pickens3929
Conecuh38810
Washington38612
Sumter36018
Lawrence3481
Macon33414
Crenshaw3143
Choctaw28112
Cherokee2707
Henry2593
Geneva2570
Clay2525
Greene25011
Lamar2202
Fayette2045
Cleburne1261
Coosa1012
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 120585

Reported Deaths: 1215
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby22916301
Davidson20383213
Rutherford646354
Hamilton606253
Knox451338
Williamson347825
Sumner340473
Unassigned312810
Out of TN286014
Wilson226223
Bradley190312
Montgomery190213
Sevier18507
Putnam174018
Trousdale15826
Robertson153519
Hamblen138314
Blount127711
Maury12257
Washington12252
Tipton11959
Madison106417
Sullivan96214
Bedford91811
Hardeman89817
Macon85813
Lake7820
Loudon7253
Bledsoe6951
Gibson6935
Fayette6868
Dickson6792
Anderson6766
Dyer6287
Cheatham5787
Henderson5632
Jefferson5593
Lawrence5506
Obion5464
McMinn53120
Rhea5282
Coffee5223
Carter5126
Warren5074
Lauderdale4898
Greene4678
Haywood4636
Hardin4628
Roane4612
Cocke4572
Hawkins4517
Cumberland4506
Smith4454
Weakley4214
Monroe4189
Giles37813
McNairy3715
DeKalb3492
Franklin3254
Carroll2963
Marshall2903
White2815
Lincoln2801
Henry2760
Claiborne2660
Crockett2664
Johnson2650
Hickman2590
Campbell2471
Wayne2252
Marion2224
Chester2172
Polk2043
Decatur1983
Grainger1960
Overton1801
Unicoi1610
Union1540
Benton1481
Cannon1430
Jackson1241
Humphreys1203
Morgan1181
Scott1180
Grundy1132
Sequatchie1050
Meigs1040
Fentress920
Perry790
Hancock782
Clay750
Stewart740
Lewis731
Moore610
Houston570
Van Buren360
Pickett311

Community Events