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New Yorker's Guide to Rockefeller Center

Art Deco Architecture, Skating, Christmas, and More


Prometheus at Rockefeller Center in New York City
Rockefeller Center is home to many New York landmarks – including the famous ice skating rink, the historic GE Building (where Saturday Night Live and The Today Show are filmed), the grand Radio City Music Hall, and the country’s most famous Christmas tree.

If not for the stock market crash of 1929, Rockefeller Center would never have existed. John D. Rockefeller originally leased the property, an area previously known as the “speakeasy belt”, with plans to build a new Metropolitan Opera House on the site.

When the stock market crashed, the Met couldn’t afford to move so Rockefeller decided to build an office complex instead. Construction of the Art Deco style buildings began in 1931.

Rockefeller partnered with the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), one of the few companies in the country that was prospering despite the Depression. RCA was the parent company of NBC and the network produced radio programs that attracted large audiences seeking diversion during hard times. RCA/NBC became the principal tenant of Rockefeller’s new skyscraper, previously known as the RCA building (and currently known as the GE Building after the tower’s current owner).

Today, Rockefeller Center is comprised of 19 buildings between 48th and 51st Streets from Fifth Avenue to Sixth Avenue. NBC is still a key tenant, broadcasting images of Rockefeller Center live every morning on the Today Show. Rockefeller Center has become a major New York landmark, hosting some of the city’s most famous sights and destinations.

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