An ode to 1930s New York, Rockefeller Center in Midtown Manhattan fuses the old and the new, and is at the heart of the city’s annual holiday celebrations.
Built between 1930 and 1939, the sprawling Rockefeller Center was seen as a revolutionary symbol of innovation and progress amid the depression-era slump. A “city within a city”, the center has a sleek, modern design and has housed some of the most progressive companies in America’s history. Today, it’s still a hub of Manhattan with 19 commercial and historic buildings that cover several blocks.
A benchmark for Art Deco architecture, Rockefeller Center boasts many attractions. Take a tour of the famous NBC studios. Get tickets to see the famous Rockettes or a concert at Radio City Music Hall. During the holiday season, check out the enormous 100-foot Christmas tree. The glistening ice-skating rink is open daily October through April.
At any time of year, a trip to the center should start with a visit to the Top of the Rock observation deck for a 360-degree view of the city. Before zooming to the observation decks in the Sky Shuttle elevator, make sure you explore the permanent exhibition of photographs and artifacts on the mezzanine level. (Once you’re at the top, you can’t return to the exhibit.) The 70-story-high viewing platform is open daily offering postcard-perfect views of the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty to the south and Central Park to the north.
Over at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the centerpiece of the complex, television aficionados can join behind-the-scenes NBC studios tours, which run every 15 minutes, to catch a glimpse into what makes shows like “NBC Nightly News” and “Saturday Night Live” tick. Check the Rockefeller Center website for ticket information. For history buffs, ticketed tours through the General Electric building also run regularly every day, with knowledgeable guides sharing insights into the history and artistry of the center.
After your tour, head downstairs to refuel at one of the many cafes and restaurants in the Concourse level or wander outside onto Fifth Avenue.
Rockefeller Plaza is located in Midtown, and is on a number of bus routes and subway lines.