Rockefeller Centre

Rockefeller Centre

Rockefeller Center is a complex of 19 commercial buildings, located in the heart of midtown Manhattan in New York City. It encompasses the entire area between 5th and 6th Avenues and between 48th and 51st Streets. The Center contains some of New York's most famous landmarks, including Radio City Music Hall, the Rockefeller Center skating rink, and the elegant Rainbow Room restaurant and nightclub at the top of the GE building. It is here that New York's huge holiday tree is lit each November, amidst much caroling and celebration.


Rockefeller Center was originally planned as a home to the Metropolitan Opera Company. The land was leased by John D. Rockefeller for the project and the plans were drawn. However, the stock market crash of 1929 left the Opera without funds for the project and Rockefeller decided to erect an office complex instead. Construction of the Art Deco buildings was begun in 1931.

Rockefeller joined forces with then radio giant, RCA, who eventually became the parent of NBC, in the venture. RCA was the first tenant of the new skyscraper, called appropriately the RCA building. RCA eventually sold to GE and the building is now called the GE Building. NBC continues to be one of the complex's major tenants, and broadcasts several programs, including the Today Show and Saturday Night Live from the building.

Art at Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center contains over 100 pieces of original art. Notable are Paul Manship’s "Prometheus Bringing Fire to Mankind", located by the skating rink, and Lee Lowrie’s "Atlas". Noted 1930s muralist (and socialist) Diego Riviera was commissioned to paint a large mural in the lobby of Rockefeller Center. Unfortunately, John D. Rockefeller ordered it destroyed shortly after completion when he learned that it contained a likeness of Lenin.

Visiting Rockefeller Center

In addition to the artwork, Rockefeller Center offers a variety of activities for visitors and residents alike. Among them are:

The GE Building and NBC Studios
The centerpiece of Rockefeller Center is the 71-floor, 872-foot GE Building, headquarters of NBC. Daily tours are available of the building and the TV studios. In addition, tickets are sometimes available for shows taped at Rockefeller Center, including Late Night with Conan O'Brien and Saturday Night Live. The building also has a rooftop observation deck, offering panoramic 360-degree views of Manhattan.

Rockefeller Center during the Holidays
Winter activities at Rockefeller Center include the signature skating rink, located in the shadow of the golden "Prometheus" statue. Built in 1936, the rink is open each year between October and April. Last year, over four million people visited the rink.

The holiday tree at Rockefeller Center is one of the highlights of the New York holiday season. The tradition began in 1931, before construction of the Center was even completed, and the first lighting ceremony was held in 1933. The Rockefeller Center tree is the largest, brightest, and arguably the most famous holiday tree in the United States. Each year the tree, between 75 and 100-foot tall, is adorned with over 30,000 lights.

Radio City's Annual Christmas production is another New York City holiday tradition. The eight-week show, which features the "Rockettes", has been a sell-out since its debut in 1933.

Radio City Music Hall
Radio City Music Hall is the largest indoor theater in the world. Best known for its high-stepping dance troupe, the "Rockettes", Radio City also hosts a variety of musical, dramatic, and dance performers throughout the year. Over 300 million people attend an event at Radio City each year.

Dining at Rockefeller Center
The numerous restaurants at Rockefeller Center include the "American Café", located below street level, overlooking the skating rink and the holiday tree, in season, and the spectacular, Art Deco "Rainbow Room" supper club on the 65th floor of the GE building.

Radio City Music Hall Tour – after extensive restoration (completed in October 1999), the Music Hall now reflects its original grandeur of opening night, 1932, sporting behind-the-scenes upgrades and refurbishment. Following the lead of Radio City 's experienced tour guides, guests explore: the Great Stage, one of the largest indoor performance stages in the world, the stage's hydraulic system, still in operation since the '30s; the renowned private suite, with 12-feet high gold leaf ceilings and onetime home to Samuel "Roxy" Rothafel. And as an exciting climax to the Stage Door Tour, guests will meet one of the world-famous Radio City Rockettes.

Radio City Music Hall Tour Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 11:00am - 3:00pm

Top of the Rock Tour - offers visitors an experience in history and incredible views of New York City from the newly renovated Observation Deck on the 70th floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

Top of the Rock Tour Hours:
8:30am - midnight, 365 days a year. Last elevator goes up at 11pm

Rockefeller Center Tour - Discover the history behind the creation of Rockefeller Center . One this tour a Rockefeller Center Historian will be your guide as you travel through the buildings, gardens and spaces that make up this wondrous "city within a city."

Rockefeller Center Tour Hours:
Monday to Saturday: 10:00am - 5:00pm (depart every 60 minutes)
Sunday: 10:00am - 4:00pm (depart every 60 minutes)

There’s also an NBC Studio Tour.

Location: stretches from 5th Avenue to 7th Avenue and from 47th St to 51st Street.
Phone: 212-332-6868

Click here to visit Rockefeller Center official website.