Probably most people think Reckefeller Center is the famous 30 Rock or 30 Rockefeller Plaza. And it’s true many of the iconic features of the Center are associated with this building. But in truth Rockefeller Center is a complex of 19 buildings spread over 22 acres. It is located between 48th and 51st Sts spanning all the space between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.
The original build started in 1930 and was completed in 1939. During this time 14 Art Deco buildings were completed. And then in the 60′s and 70′s 5 additional buildings in the International Style along the west side of Avenue of the Americas. All of the buildings are important in their own right but from the point of view of visitors most attention is focussed on 30 Rockefeller Plaza and 1260 Avenue of the Americas.
30 Rockefeller Plaza is the headquarters of NBC and a whole series of very popular TV shows are recorded there such as the Tonight show with Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live. The public may attend all these shows for free after booking in to see them. It also has a very popular observation deck, rivalling the Empire Stare Building in popularity as THE place to look down on NYC as a whole. Called ‘Top of the Rock’ on the 67th-70th floors, you need to book to go up there. At the front of the Lower Plaza is the famed gilded statue of Prometheus and below that the equally famous skating rink open during the winter months.
At 50th St and 1260 Ave of the Americas is the famed Radio City Music Hall theater which is a huge opulent theater which seats 6,000. Though originally used as a motion picture palace and for stage shows it is now the home of the Rockettes who stage a hugely popular Christmas Spectacular on it’s enormous stage. As well big award shows such as the Grammies and the Tony Awards are often held there. Tours of the Radio Center Music Hall can be booked. It is a very interesting tout and you are taken backstage and upstairs into private parts of the theater.
One of the instructions to the original archtiects was to include works of art in all the buildings. The Art Deco embellishment on the buildings, the plasterwork and various sculptural pieces are amongst the finest examples of Art Deco in the world. In the Grand Lobby of 30 Rock there is also a famous mural by Joseph Maria Set.
There are of course numerous shops and restaurants, especially in the concourse which is part of Rockefeller Plaza, and you need you give yoruself time to explore as much as you enjoy in a leisurely way. It takes time not just to see as much as you can but also to assimialte the enormity of the whole Center.