Rockefeller Center is a National Historic Landmark in the center of Midtown Manhattan. It comprises 19 commercial buildings between 48th and 51st Streets in New York City, founded by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., a member of one of the wealthiest American families in modern history. Click to book your Rockefeller Center tour.
Rockefeller Center is a magnificent mixture of indoor and outdoor attractions that stretch from 5th to 7th Avenue and 47th to 51st Street. The Rock is a hub of activity and is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in New York City. Whether you’re interested in the annual Christmas tree display, or if you’d rather catch a taping of NBC’s “Today Show”, Rockefeller Center is where the action is at. The Center is full of world-class retail shops, multinational businesses, and much, much more! The Rockefeller Center is located seconds away from another prominent New York staple, Times Square, so be sure to swing on over because you don’t want to miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
Rockefeller Center Attractions
One of the largest private building projects began in the 1930s. Today it’s home to over a hundred unique shops and restaurants, including 30 Rockefeller Plaza, which is also known as the Rock, Comcast Building, and 30 Rock.
30 Rockefeller Plaza has become one of the hottest tourist destinations in the city, offering unobstructed 360-degree city views of Central Park and Manhattan’s Midtown and Downtown, from the 67th-70th floors, including the open-air roof deck, as part of the Top of the Rock attraction. That’s 850 feet (260 meters) above the street level as you travel on an elevator with a glass roof and colorful exposition.
Guests on a more flexible schedule are advised to go on the journey to the observation deck right before the sunset because when the sun goes down, the city lights up, and Manhattan unveils itself in a whole different way. Either way, the demand during the peak season is high, so it’s recommended to book your tickets in advance. This includes guided tours and VIP passes. Note that the last ticket is sold at 11 pm and the last elevator goes up at 11:15 pm.
In addition to the spectacular views, the Plaza experience also includes bright Breezeway rooms and a Radiance Wall comprised of glass panels, blown glass, and fiber-optic lighting created by Swarovski, who also crafted Joie Chandelier found in the Grand Atrium Lobby. As far as art goes, then guests are also invited to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), displaying the contemporary history of painting, sculpture, and new media.
Rockefeller Center Channel Gardens
On top of that, Rockefeller Center is also famous for its Channel Gardens, which bloom in uniquely themed plant installations that transform with the seasons, featuring anything from tulips to the weeping willow.
During the winter months, no Rockefeller Center experience is complete without visiting the famous Rink. There you’re invited to put on skates and enjoy the moment on the ice rink right next to the famous Christmas tree and its mesmerizing lights.
Radio City Music Hall
Rockefeller Center also offers backstage tours and performances at one of the largest theatres in the world – The Radio City Music Hall. This includes events like The Radio City Christmas Spectacular and The Radio City Stage Door Tour.
During the summer, locals and tourists may also find the Farmers Market or Greenmarket. Fresh produce and gourmet goods like handcrafted potato vodka, eggs, flowers, baked goods, bread, vegetables, wine, cheese, and more can be purchased from regional farms only Wednesday – Friday, from 8 am until 5 pm.
In the year 1929, John D. Rockefeller leased a prominent patch of land in the middle of New York from Columbia University. His plan was to revitalize the area with big office buildings and even a new home for the Metropolitan Opera. Sadly, Rockefeller’s plans for the Opera house came to a halt during the market crash of that year, but he persevered and continued to develop the land into an entire commercial complex.
Rockefeller Center is currently comprised of 19 buildings and features art by over 30 different artists within the spacious foyers, gardens, and facades. Other attractions include the GE Building located at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. This massive building stands 850 feet tall and boasts 70 stories. It provides office space for General Electric along with the TV network powerhouse NBC. When driving past the GE Building, you can’t help but notice the two sculptural figures that decorate NBC’s entrance. These sculptures symbolize the production and reception of television, and companion pieces can be found outside another one of the residences of Rockefeller Center, the Radio City Music Hall. The Radio City Music Hall is the place to catch New York’s premiere performances.
The massive interior was designed by Donald Deskey and can hold close to 6,000 spectators at once! The Music Hall opened in 1932 and is a must-see attraction when you visit New York! The two most famous attractions at Rockefeller Center are hands down the Christmas Tree and the Outdoor Skating Rink. The Rockefeller Christmas tree towers over the plaza during the Christmas season symbolizing the essence of New York at Christmas time.
Rockefeller Christmas tree
The tree itself is hand-picked by the manager of the Rockefeller Center every year from one of the Northwestern states. The tree is typically a Norway Spruce and the desired dimensions are, obviously, gigantic! A prospective Rockefeller Christmas Tree must be a minimum of 65 feet tall and 35 feet wide. Over 30,000 multi-colored bulbs are strung throughout the tree, which covers over 5 miles of wire! The official day for lighting the tree this year is November 30th so be sure to check it out!
Rockefeller Skating Rink
The Rockefeller Skating Rink opens in October and remains in use during the cold winter months. This sunken part of the plaza was originally designed as the focal point for the Metropolitan Opera, but after the market crash, it was re-engineered in 1936 with restaurants and later the installation of the outdoor rink.
One of the most memorable attractions at the Rockefeller Plaza was installed in 1962. Along the Northeast side of the plaza, there is a large, green granite block that is inscribed with John D. Rockefeller’s personal credo: “I believe in the supreme worth of the individual and in his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Following this are nine of Rockefeller’s personal sayings etched into the stone for all to see.
Rockefeller Center App
All that is just the tip of the iceberg, as Rockefeller Center is surrounded by the best shopping, dining, and entertainment in Midtown.
For better orientation, download their free mobile app, available for both iOS and Android. It comes with a 360-degree viewfinder, which is especially handy when on Top of the Rock, to help you learn more about the city’s architecture, historical and cultural landmarks, neighborhoods, and more.
The app also has a wayfinding feature, to locate the many shops, restaurants, restrooms, and even works of art throughout the center.
Visiting Rockefeller Center
Rockefeller Center is really a magnificent sight, so don’t just drive past it, take the time to stop and enjoy all of the truly beautiful sights!
Location: 45 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY, 10111
It stretches from 5th Avenue to 6th Avenue and from 48th Street to 51st Street.
Click here to visit Rockefeller Center official website.