Rockefeller Center is a large complex consisting of 19 commercial buildings covering 22 acres between 48th and 51st Streets, facing Fifth Avenue, in New York City. Commissioned by the Rockefeller family, it is located in the center of Midtown Manhattan. The 14 original Art Deco buildings span the area between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, split by a large sunken square and a private street called Rockefeller Plaza. Five International Style buildings, built later, are located on the west side of Sixth Avenue and at the north end of Rockefeller Plaza. In 1928, the site’s then-owner, Columbia University, leased the land to John D. Rockefeller Jr., who was the main person behind the complex’s construction. Originally envisioned as the site for a new Metropolitan Opera building, the current Rockefeller Center came about after the Met could not afford to move to the proposed new building. Various plans were discussed before the current one was approved in 1932. Construction of Rockefeller Center started in 1931, and the first buildings opened in 1933. The core of the complex was completed by 1939. Rockefeller Center has two parts: the original center and the later International-style buildings. The original center has several sections: Radio City, for RCA’s radio-related enterprises such as the Music Hall and 30 Rockefeller Plaza; the International Complex, for foreign tenants; and the remainder of the original complex, which originally hosted printed media as well as Eastern Air Lines. While 600 Fifth Avenue is located at the southeast corner of the complex and contains architecture similar to the original complex, it was built by private interests in the 1950s and was only acquired by the center in 1963. Described as one of the greatest projects of the Great Depression era, Rockefeller Center was declared a New York City landmark in 1985 and a National Historic Landmark in 1987. It is noted for the large quantities of art present in almost all of its Art Deco buildings, as well as its Radio City section and its ice-skating rink. The complex is also famous for its annual lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.
RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL
• National Historic Site (78001880)
Radio City Music Hall is an entertainment venue at 1260 Avenue of the Americas, within Rockefeller Center, in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Nicknamed the Showplace of the Nation, it is notable as the headquarters for the Rockettes, the precision dance company. Radio City Music Hall was built on a plot of land that was originally intended for a Metropolitan Opera House. The opera house plans were canceled in 1929, leading to the construction of Rockefeller Center. The new complex included two theaters, the “International Music Hall” and the Center Theatre, as part of the “Radio City” portion of Rockefeller Center. The 5,960-seat Music Hall was the larger of the two venues. It was largely successful until the 1970s, when declining patronage nearly drove the Music Hall to bankruptcy. Radio City Music Hall was designated a New York City Landmark in May 1978, and the Music Hall was restored and allowed to remain open. The hall was extensively renovated in 1999. Radio City Music Hall was designed by Edward Durell Stone and Donald Deskey in the Art Deco style. One of the more notable parts of the Music Hall is its large auditorium, which was the world’s largest when the Hall first opened. The Music Hall also contains a variety of art. Although Radio City Music Hall was initially intended to host stage shows, it hosted performances in a film-and-stage-spectacle format through the 1970s, and was the site of several movie premieres. It now primarily hosts concerts, including by leading pop and rock musicians, and live stage shows such as the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. The Music Hall has also hosted televised events including the Grammy Awards, the Tony Awards, the Daytime Emmy Awards, the MTV Video Music Awards, and the NFL Draft.