Rockefeller Center is what makes New York, New York. Modern high-rises, awesome shopping, and dining opportunities abound in this sprawling 22-acre complex made up of 19 buildings. It sits right at the very heart of midtown Manhattan. The whole complex is framed by 48th Street, 51st Street, Fifth Avenue and Seventh Avenue. It is unique in that it is the largest privately owned and privately built complex in the world. It is a National Historic Landmark.
The Center rose amidst the turmoil of the stock market crash in 1929. Then called Radio City, its buildings are artfully designed around a sunken plaza, which also houses a skating rink. Its eventual namesake, John D. Rockefeller, Jr, leased the area from Columbia University to build an opera house. But after the crash, he changed his mind and decided to build the complex housing a radio and television station instead.
Some highlights of Rockefeller Center include:
GE Building: Formerly called the RCA Building, this 872-foot structure is the complex's centerpiece. Its Indiana limestone exterior and marble and granite lobby make it the centerpiece of the complex. Its claims to fame include NBC's headquarters, New York studios, and the renowned Rainbow Room restaurant. It is also filled with murals by Jose Maria Sert. You can also climb up to the Top of the Rock, which is the building's observation deck offering stunning panoramic views of the city, including the Empire State Building and Central Park.
Radio City Music Hall: Completed in 1932, this building was the biggest theater during its time. The exteriors were designed by Edward Durell Stone, while the Art Deco interiors were done by Donald Deskey. In collaboration with Abby Rockefeller, Deskey filled the interiors with wall paintings and sculptures. This theater has a 6,000-seating capacity.
Christmas Tree: The Rock (as the Rockefeller Center is fondly called) is famous for its grand Christmas Tree lighting ceremonies, which are held in late November or early December. It is also a great opportunity to go celebrity-watching, as the event is also hugely attended by stars. The tree itself is a thing to behold, with gorgeous adornments filling its 75 to 90 feet.
Ice Skating Rink: Strap on your skates and try them on what is possibly the most famous skating rink in the world. The rink is featured in several Hollywood movies. Although small, it exudes romance with its twinkling lights. It opens from late October to April.
Underground Concourse: These pedestrian passages, also fondly called the Catacombs, connect the 14 main buildings of the Center. It contains a fascinating underground city - New York's largest. Here, you can dine, shop and play.
Channel Gardens: Be entranced by this lovely oasis amidst all the steel and granite. Take a breather from all that walking you did and breathe in the beauty of flowers and sculptures. The gardens lie between the British Empire Building and La Maison Francaise.
Other treats you should try to include the Swiss truffles at Teuscher Chocolates or shop at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Store. Also, visit the studios such as Late Night with Conan O'Brien and the Today show. Who knows? You may get your 15 seconds of fame on television. You should also tour the Rock to see the statues that grace the compound.