The Rockefeller Center
We take a trip up this impressive midtown Manhattan Art Deco complex
(Photos/words © urban75, 2007)
A celebration of Art Deco architecture, the Rockefeller Center covers 19 commercial buildings over 11 acres in Midtown Manhattan.
Situated between 48th and 51st Streets on Fifth to Seventh Avenues, the center was named after the super-rich John D. Rockefeller, who leased the land - then occupied by tenements and theatres - from Columbia University in 1928.
A calamitous stock market crash a year later put paid to plans to build an opera house for the Metropolitan Opera Company on the site, but Rockefeller pushed ahead with his ambitious vision to create a commercial district.
Construction work starting in late 1929, with the largest tower, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, being the first built. It still remains the centerpiece of the complex.
The Center now comprises two building complexes: the original 1930s 14 Art Deco office buildings supplemented in the 1960s and 1970s by a set of four towers built along the Avenue of the Americas.
The Center also includes America's biggest indoor theatre, Radio City Music Hall.
FACT! During the Second World War, part of the complex (International Building North) became the primary base for US operations of the British Intelligence service (MI6)
A sunken plaza is used as an ice-skating rink during winter, like the popular rink at Somerset House in London.
There's a good view of the rink from the street so you can admire the pro skaters and empathise with the stumblers.
On the west side of the rink/plaza is a large gilded statue of Prometheus recumbent, supposedly bringing fire to mankind.
Rather spooky wooden trumpeter. In the background you can see some of the 200 flagpoles which periodically display United Nations member countries, the flags of United States states and territories and various decorative and seasonal flags.
In typical US style, they go completely overboard during U.S. holidays and stick the Stars and Stripes on every flagpole they can find.
After zipping up the Rockefeller Tower via a funky life with a see-through ceiling, we were rewarded with some fantastic views of the city.
This photo was taken looking south to where the WTC used to stand. Compare the scene with this photo from the top of the WTC looking north towards the Rockefeller Centre.
Empire State from the Rockefeller Center.
Schooltrip at the top.
City detail from the observation deck.
Looking east with the distinctive wedge of the Citigroup Centre to the left. Completed in 1977, the tower stands 278m (915ft) high with 59 floors.
Looking north over Central Park.
Another view looking south.
Statue of Liberty as seen from the observation deck (aided by a thumping great 300mm lens!).
The Center's observation decks were (known as 'Top Of The Rock') were fully reopened in 1975 after a $75 million makeover.
The open decks span the 67-70th floors and afford fantastic views.
View from a north facing observation deck.
Harlem Meer lake, Central Park.
Telescope looking north.
Schoolkids admiring the view.
Looking south east over Williamsburg and Brooklyn.
Bobble hat and Empire State.
Another view of the Citygroup tower. The 45 degrees roof was designed to facilitate solar collection devices.
Taking in the view.
Near the very top.
High up on the 70th floor is a 20-foot wide viewing area, where visitors can enjoy a fantastic 360-degree view of New York while (in our case) being battered by icy cold gale force winds.
Posing for a picture.
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