Not only during Christmas season is Rockefeller Center a necessity for tourists. Ever since the film series “Home Alone” everybody knows the beautifully decorated Christmas tree and the romantic Ice Skating Rink in front of the 15th largest building in New York City. The main building and the largest building of the Center is the GE Building with a height of 259 meters (859 ft), which is located directly at 5th Avenue. Rockefeller Center is an attraction which is worth the trip all year long and one should at least once take the elevator up to the legendary “Top of the Rock”. The view from the top of the building is truly one of a kind.
The Rockefeller Center Plaza, only accessible by foot, is worth a visit no matter the season. October through April the Ice Skating Rink attracts Tourists from all over the world. In Mid-November the gigantic, yet still unlit Christmas tree is added to the Plaza. The official “Lighting Ceremony” takes place about a week after Thanksgiving and so Christmas Season officially starts in the Big Apple. The “Christmas Tree Lighting” attracts ten thousands of visitors and some of the most famous artists thrive for the honor of performing at this event. After the 7th of January the Christmas decorations disappear, the famous tree included. Starting April the Ice Skating Rink is removed and the so called “Lower Plaza” appears. It is a great meeting point for tourists and also employees of the nearby buildings to sit down and take in the sun during lunch break. All year, except for Christmas and other important holidays, the Plaza is surrounded by somewhat 200 flags of the member states of the United Nations. In addition to that, on and around the Plaza one can admire artistic sculptures. One of the most famous and most photographed sculptures in New York City is “Prometheus”, a sculpture shimmering in gold, but actually made of bronze. If one turns from 5th Avenue towards Rockefeller Center, there is a small Garden called “Channel Garden”, right between the buildings “La Maison Francaise” and the “British Empire Building”. Symbolically, this Garden represents the English Channel, which separates England and France just like it separates the two buildings. Depending on the season, the Garden is differently designed to match the current season. Rockefeller Center is also home to the NBC TV-Studios and of course to the world famous “Today Show”. Rockefeller Center is therefore often used as a setting to the many free concerts organized by the Today Show featuring some of Americas greatest performers. Apart from that, every morning between 7 and 11 o'clock , hundreds of people gather in front of the Today Show Studio to perhaps get the chance of being on national Television.
Top of the Rock Observation Deck
The entrance is on 50th Street between 5th and 6th Avenue. From the Lobby one takes the elevator up, which in itself is already an attraction worth seeing. Extremely fast and accompanied by colorful lights one is taken up to the first platform out of the three possible. The first two platforms on the 67th and 69th floors are an inside gallery and a platform surrounded by glass windows, while the platform on the 70th floor is completely open and allows a 360° view of Manhattan and Central Park. During the day as well as at night Rockefeller Center is an experience you won't easily forget.
Rockefeller center Tour
For a small extra charge to the regular ticket one can add a tour guide which provides interesting historic facts about Rockefeller Center, the gardens and the plazas. The tour includes an audio guide and headphones, so you can enjoy the tour in your language and you won't miss any interesting facts about Rockefeller Center.
The name of the building goes back to one of the richest and most powerful families in New York City, if not in all of the US. John D. Rockefeller was the constructor and initiator of the project. The idea was to build a city within a city and through that promote the economical relations in one of the complexes. At first, the Metropolitan was supposed to help finance the project, but due to the Great Depression 1929, John D. Rockefeller had to finance the project by himself. During its construction it was the largest private building in the modern time. It took more than three years to finish this masterpiece, starting on May 17th 1930 until the 1st of November in 1933. Today, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city that never sleeps. It is home to the GE Building, the One Rockefeller Plaza and Radio City Music Hall. The latter shapes the American culture up until today, with more than 300 million visitors it is one of the largest theaters in the world.
How to get there
With the Bus lines M1, M2, M3, M4 or M5 you need to get off at the stop 50th Street. In addition, one can take the subway lines 1, 6, B, D, F, M to the stop 47th -50th Street Rockefeller Center. If you start at Penn Station, take the subway line 1 and get off at 50th Street, corner Broadway. From there, just follow the 5th Avenue eastward and turn at Rockefeller Center. Starting from Grand Central Station take the subway line 6 and exit at 51st Street, corner Lexington Avenue. Continue walking westward on 5th Avenue, until you see Rockefeller Center on your left hand side. From Times Square it is only a couple of minutes by foot. Walk northward on 7th Avenue, make a right on 50th Street and you should already see Rockefeller Center.
Reaching Rockefeller Center is also possible by car, but you have to pay for all parking garages and most of the fees are extremely high. Popular Parking garages are for example “Rockefeller Center Garage” and “Modern Parking LCC 666 Fifth Avenue Garage”. However, it is easiest and cheapest to take one of the public transports or simply walk.