Rockefeller Center

WC Art Encyclopedia Rockefeller Center

The Rockefeller Center is a complex of commercial buildings in Midtown Manhattan between 5th and 6th Avenue. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. leased the property from Columbia University in 1928 and initially planned to build an Opera house for the Metropolitan Opera. Yet, after the stock market crash of 1929 he changed his plans and started, what would become the largest private building project ever undertaken in modern times, when he began to develop the property in 1930.

Between 1930 and 1939 14 buildings in Art Deco style were erected, giving 40,000 people employment. The principal architect was Raymond Hood. He led a team of three architectural firms. This project is among the last major building projects in the USA to incorporate a program of integrated public art and thus represents a turning point in the history of architectural sculpture. In the 1960s and 1970s four International style towers were added to the complex along the west side of Avenue of the Americas.

Centerpiece of the complex is the GE Building (formerly RCA Building) at 30 Rockefeller Plaza (30 Rock). It is a 70-floor Art Deco building that unlike other buildings of the era has a flat roof used as observation deck since the early 1930s. Besides housing the offices of the Rockefeller family, the skyscraper is the headquarters of NBC with many of the networks NY studios located at the spot. The presence of NBC and RCA, the complex’s first and most important tenants, sign responsible for the Center’s nickname Radio City.

The nickname found its way into the name of the Radio City Music Hall, once promoted as the largest and most opulent theater in the world this entertainment center is also part of the Rockefeller Center.  It seats 6,000 spectators, who once witnessed there first nights of movies and stage shows, before in 1979 the theater converted to presenting touring performers and special events. It is one of the world greatest examples of Art Deco design and one of New York’s most popular tourist attractions.

International Building North housed during WWII the U.S. operations of British Intelligence and the principle operations center for Allied intelligence.

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