Rockefeller Center, New York

Rockefeller Center, New York (must see)

In 1801, New York physician David Hosack bought 22 acres of open land from the city with an aim to establish the country's first botanical garden, the Elgin Botanic Garden. The latter had lasted only until 1811, for the lack of funds, following which the territory was taken over by Columbia University, in 1823.

In 1926, the property changed hands again when the Metropolitan Opera sought location for its new home; so the University leased the land to the theater's benefactor, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. After the stock market crashed, in 1929, the Met Opera move was canceled, and Rockefeller decided to build a mass media complex instead.

The ensued talks between Radio Corporation of America, National Broadcasting Company, and Radio-Keith-Orpheum Radio resulted in an agreement, in 1930, to build on the site an entertainment complex. Pursuant to this agreement, 228 buildings were demolished and 4,000 tenants relocated. Early on, the project was called "Radio City," "Rockefeller City," or "Metropolitan Square."

Presently, Rockefeller Center represents a compound of two complexes (comprising 14 Art Deco-style buildings), one solitary edifice on 51st Street (added in 1947), and four towers on the west side of Sixth Avenue. The venue covers all of Doctor Hosack's 22 acres, and, whilst there's no botanicals on the ground, it does have some rooftop gardens.

Radio City Music Hall occupies the western part of the Center. The Lower Plaza, at the heart of the complex, lends a sense of privacy, being sunken below street level. Architect Ieoh Ming Pei praised it as "the most successful open space in the United States, perhaps in the world." Most of the Plaza's outdoor area is taken up by an ice rink, installed in 1936.

In addition to the spectacular, unobstructed views of the NYC skyline opening from the top of the Rock’s three levels of indoor and outdoor observation decks, the Center offers a shopping experience like no other. The abundant choice of popular local brands, international names, and up-and-coming designers makes it one of the best shopping destinations in Midtown Manhattan. This is where you come to realize that shopping is as much about the place as it is about what you buy.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in New York. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Rockefeller Center on Map

Sight Name: Rockefeller Center
Sight Location: New York, USA (See walking tours in New York)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in New York, New York

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Creating your own self-guided walk in New York is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
New York's Central Park Walking Tour

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Arguably the most famous public park in the world today, Central Park has been called the lungs of New York City – literally “central”, it is where Manhattanites go to get a sense of space and air. Plan for at least half a day to wander along its many pathways, take a rowboat on the water, enjoy the landscaping and the numerous man-made wonders, spend some time at the zoo or bring a pair of...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
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Times Square to Central Park

Times Square to Central Park

A leisurely self-guided stroll from Times Square to Central Park will take you to some of NYC’s prominent locations, each worth visiting in their own right.

At 49th Street, Fifth Avenue lives up to its lofty reputation with the Rockefeller Center, one of the world’s biggest business and entertainment complexes, and a triumph of Art Deco architecture. Like the neighboring Times Square, the...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 Km or 2 Miles
Columbia University Walking Tour

Columbia University Walking Tour

Established in 1754, Columbia University is the oldest institution of higher education in New York and the fifth-oldest in the U.S. It is one of nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence, a member of the prestigious Ivy League, and is ranked among the top universities in the world.

Columbia's main campus was designed along Beaux-Arts planning principles and...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 Km or 1.4 Miles
Brooklyn New York Walking Tour

Brooklyn New York Walking Tour

Named after the Breukelen village in the Netherlands, Brooklyn, one of New York City’s five boroughs, occupies the western tip of Long Island. Its history began in the 17th century as a small Dutch settlement on the East River shore; Brooklyn Heights, or Clover Hill, is where the village was founded, in 1646.

By the 19th century, Brooklyn had grown into a sizable town. The iconic Brooklyn...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.9 Km or 2.4 Miles
Midtown Manhattan Walking Tour

Midtown Manhattan Walking Tour

Welcome to the iconic New York City that so many tourists dream about before they visit – spectacular skyscrapers, iconic public buildings, large neon flat screens above ground level and the non-stop activity on city streets.

They say if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere, and Times Square, Broadway, is definitely a part of that slogan. Day time or night time, it’s one of the...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 Km or 2.5 Miles
Best of Lower Manhattan Walking Tour

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Every part of Manhattan is terrific, but if you are looking for one that showcases the best overview of New York City’s architectural styles, it’s Lower Manhattan – or the Downtown – that would get the most votes. This is where it all started, where New Amsterdam was founded, where Canal Street used to be a canal, and where Wall Street used to be a wall marking the end of town. It’s also...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles

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