Top of the Rock

Beez Neez now Chy Whella
Big Bear and Pepe Millard
Mon 11 Jul 2011 21:17
Rockefeller Center, GE Building and the TOTR






Rockefeller Center or Rockefeller Plaza is a complex of 19 commercial buildings covering 22 acres between 48th and 51st streets in New York City, United States. Built by the Rockefeller family, it is located in the centre of Midtown Manhattan, spanning the area between Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987. 65,000 people work in the Rockefeller Center. 175,000 people visit daily for business or pleasure. 




History: Rockefeller Center was named after John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who leased the space from Columbia University in 1928 and developed it from 1930. Rockefeller initially planned a syndicate to build an opera house for the Metropolitan Opera on the site, but changed his mind after the stock market crash of 1929 and the Metropolitan's continual delays to hold out for a more favourable lease, causing Rockefeller to move forward without them. Rockefeller stated "It was clear that there were only two courses open to me. One was to abandon the entire development. The other to go forward with it in the definite knowledge that I myself would have to build it and finance it alone." He took on the enormous project as the sole financier, on a 27-year lease (with the option for three 21-year renewals for a total of 87 years) for the site from Columbia; negotiating a line of credit with the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and covering ongoing expenses through the sale of oil company stock.

It was the largest private building project ever undertaken in modern times. Construction of the 14 buildings in the Art Deco style (without the original opera house proposal) began on the 17th of May 1930 and was completed on the 1st of November 1933 when he drove in the final (silver) rivet into 10 Rockefeller Plaza. Principal builder, and "managing agent", for the massive project was John R. Todd and principal architect was Raymond Hood, working with and leading three architectural firms, on a team that included a young Wallace Harrison, later to become the family's principal architect and adviser to Nelson Rockefeller. It was the public relations pioneer Ivy Lee, the prominent adviser to the family, who first suggested the name "Rockefeller Centre" for the complex, in 1931. Junior initially did not want the Rockefeller family name associated with the commercial project, but was persuaded on the grounds that the name would attract far more tenants.





Buildings and tenants: The landmark buildings comprise over 8,000,000 square feet on twenty two acres in Midtown, bounded by Fifth and Sixth Avenues, and running from 48th Street to 51st Street. Rockefeller Center is also a private property, co-owned by Tishman-Speyer, and open to the public.

  • One Rockefeller Plaza (608,000 sq ft) - originally the Time–Life Building; an original tenant was General Dynamics, for whom the building was briefly named. East Japan Railway Company has an office in Suite 1410
  • 10 Rockefeller Plaza (288,000 sq ft) - Formerly the Eastern Air Lines Building. Eastern was headquartered there in 1975. After Frank Borman became president of Eastern Airlines in 1975, he moved Eastern's headquarters from Rockefeller Center to Miami-Dade County, Florida. The Today Show studios and the New York City-area offices of Aeroflot (Suite 1015) are located there.
  • 30 Rockefeller Plaza (30 Rock): GE Building (2.9 million square ft) - Formerly the RCA & RCA West Buildings
  • 1240 Avenue of the Americas: One of the original buildings on the site not torn down. It has been adapted as an annex building to 30 Rock.
  • 50 Rockefeller Plaza: Bank of America Building (481,000 sq ft) - Formerly the Associated Press Building. Originally built for the Associated Press, 50 Rock was the home to many news agencies. Isamu Noguchi's large, nine-ton stainless steel panel, News, holds the place of honor above the building's entrance. Noguchi's design depicts the various forms of communications used by journalists in the 1930s. The only building in the Center built out to the limits of its lot line, 50 Rock took its shape from main tenant's need for a single, undivided, loft-like newsroom as large as the lot could accommodate. At one point, four million feet of transmission wire were embedded in conduits on the building's fourth floor.
  • 1230 Avenue of the Americas: Simon & Schuster Building (706,000 sq ft) - Formerly U.S. Rubber/Uniroyal. Center Theatre prior to 1954.
  • 1260 Avenue of the Americas: Radio City Music Hall. In 1979, after decades as a premiere showcase for motion pictures and elaborate stage shows, the theater converted to presenting touring performers

     and special events. Each holiday season features the annual musical stage show, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, a tradition for more than 70 years. The enormous stage, with its elevators and turntables, has also offered Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, the Grammy and Tony Awards, and countless other events. One of New York's most popular tourist attractions, the Music Hall has been attended by more than 300 million people. 

  • 1270 Avenue of the Americas (528,000 sq ft) - Originally the RKO Building, later the American Metal Climax (AMAX) Building
  • 600 Fifth Avenue (409,000 sq ft) - Formerly the Sinclair Oil Building.  Etihad Airways occupies the 20th Floor
  • 610 Fifth Avenue: La Maison Francaise (130,000 sq ft)
  • 620 Fifth Avenue: British Empire Building (130,600 sq ft)
  • 626 Fifth Avenue: Palazzo d'Italia (120,000 sq ft)
  • 630 Fifth Avenue: International Building (1.2 million square ft)
  • 636 Fifth Avenue: International Building North (120,000 sq ft)
Avenue of the Americas: Construction of the Sixth Avenue subway (the "F" line) began in 1934, and included demolition of the elevated train tracks that had been in use since the late 1800's. As part of the redesign, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia lined the avenue with arched street lamps, each bearing a large circular medallion representing a different country in North, South, or Central America. Thus, Sixth Avenue took on a new name; "Avenue of the Americas." 
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree: Each Christmas the tree has 30,000 energy-efficient LED lights, on five miles of wire. 25,000 Swarovski crystals are on the star at the top of the tree. 100 feet is the record height of the tallest Christmas tree in 1999. It takes 20 people and an 80 ton crane to erect the tree. The tree comes down two weeks after Christmas, and is then recycled. The mulch (all three tons of it) is donated to the Boy Scouts to create forest paths and prevent soil erosion while the trunk either goes to the US Equestrian Team to be used as a jump or is cut into lumber for Habitat for Humanity. (borrowed photograph). 


The GE Building: is the Art Deco skyscraper that forms the centrepiece of Rockefeller Center in the midtown Manhattan section of New York City. Known as the RCA Building until 1988, it is most famous for housing the headquarters of the television network NBC. At 850 feet, the 70-story building’s address is 30 Rockefeller Plaza, which has led to its nickname "30 Rock".

The building was completed in 1933 as part of the Rockefeller Center. The noted Art Deco architect Raymond Hood led a team of Rockefeller architects. It was named the RCA Building for its main tenant, the Radio Corporation of America, formed in 1919 by General Electric. It was the first building constructed with the elevators grouped in the central core. During construction, photographer Charles Clyde Ebbets took the famous photograph Lunchtime atop a Skyscraper on the 69th floor, the 840 foot drop below, he also took the less famous picture of some of the workers having a rest 




The GE Building 


The office of the Rockefeller family occupied Room 5600 on the 56th floor. This space is now occupied by Rockefeller Family & Associates, spanning between the 54th floor and the 56th floor of the building. In 1985, the building acquired official landmark status. The RCA Building was renamed as the GE Building in 1988, two years after General Electric re-acquired the RCA Corporation. The GE Building is one of the most famous and recognised skyscrapers in New York.  





The frieze located above the main entrance was executed by Lee Lawrie and depicts "Wisdom", along with a slogan that reads "Wisdom and Knowledge shall be the stability of thy times", from Isaiah 33:6 (KJV). The vertical detailing of the building's austere Art Deco facade is integrated with a slim, functionally expressive form. The present exterior is recognised for the large GE letters at the building's top. The famous marquee above the building's entrance is seen on numerous television shows, such as 30 Rock and Seinfeld. Unlike most other tall Art Deco buildings constructed in the 1930’s, the GE Building has no spire on its roof. 







The observation deck atop the skyscraper, dubbed "Top of the Rock" or TOTR; reopened to the public on the 1st of November 2005, after undergoing a $75 million renovation. It had been closed since 1986 to accommodate the renovation of the Rainbow Room. The deck, which is built to resemble the deck of an ocean liner, offers sightseers a bird's eye view of the city, competing with the 86th floor observatory of the Empire State Building. It is often considered the best panoramic city view, some people prefer the views from the TOTR and like the fact the entry is in time slots, meaning much less queuing than at the Empire State Building. It is true you get a better view of Central Park - well you are a bit closer to it. We always had always planned to visit both buildings (both in the 1000 Places....... Book) and of course we did go up to the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building. From here though, you get to photograph of the Empire State Building and we did have someone offer to take a picture of the two of us with the ESB behind us. Very special view of it as darkness fell.









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