Rockefeller Center & Top of the Rock

Rockefeller Center is a complex of buildings built during the Great Depression by the Rockefeller family and named after John D. Rockefeller, Jr. It was the largest private building project ever undertaken in modern times. Since 1933, Rockefeller Center is famous for the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony, which marks the unofficial start of New York's holiday season.

Top of the Rock is the observation deck atop the 70-floor, 872-foot (266 m) GE Building, the centerpiece of the complex. It is often considered the best panoramic city view, if only because it offers a view of the famous Empire State Building, which obviously cannot be seen from its own observation deck.

Rockefeller Center, New York
Rockefeller Center, ice skating rink on Lower Plaza

Top of the Rock

Top of the Rock, New York
Top of the Rock, view toward south, with the Empire State Buidlding in the center

The Top of the Rock is an observatory on the 67th-70th floors of the Rockefeller center that offers spectacular 360 panoramic view of New York City. From the observation deck the visitors are able to see all New York's famous landmarks, including the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, Times Square, the Hudson River, the East River, Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty.

The observation deck, first opened to the public in 1933 by John D. Rockefeller, was closed in the period from 1986 to 2005 to accommodate renovation.

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

In late November or early December each year a large Christmas tree is placed and lightened in front of Rockefeller Center. The first Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was put up in 1931 by construction workers building the complex, and the first official tree-lighting ceremony was organized in 1933.

The lightening of the tree marks the beginning of the holiday seasons for many New Yorkers and tourists. Over 30 000 thousand of lights and the star decorate the tree (usually a Norway spruce 69 to 100 feet tall) every year. The annual event is televised and features musical performances from a variety of popular artists.

Statue of Prometheus

Statue of Prometheus

Just next to the ice rink is the statue of the ancient Greek God Prometheus. In Greek mythology, Prometheus was a member of the earliest race of gods called Titans and became a champion of humanity and the first "sculptor" of man since he fashioned man out of clay and saved humanity by stealing the fire from Zeus and teaching the man how to use it.

The sculpture is created by American sculptor Paul Manship in 1934 and is said to be the most photographed sculpture in New York. Prometheus is seen as he descends from Mount Olympus, encircled by the ring of the zodiac. The sculpture is 18 feet high, it is cast in bronze and gilded by hand in 24K gold leaf.

Statue of Statue of Atlas

In front of the Rockefeller center, directly across the St. Patrick's Cathedral, is two ton, 45 feet tall bronze statue of Ancient Greek God and brother of Prometheus - Atlas. Atlas carries the world upon his shoulders as punishment for defying Zeus. The world is represented by an armillary sphere.

Affixed to one of the sphere's rings are symbols for twelve constellations through which the Sun passes during the year and small crescent symbolizing the Moon. Atlas is depicted with exaggerated musculature and a stylized body, characteristic of Art Deco style. The statue is conceived and designed by Lee Lawrie, and modeled by Rene Chambellan and was installed in January 1937.

Ice Skating Rink

Ice Skating Rink

The Rockefeller Center Skating Rink is a popular outdoor holiday attraction in New York which was installed on the Rockefeller Center lower plaza on Christmas in 1936. It is an iconic New York landmark and a popular holiday tradition. From November until April, the skaters can glide alongside the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and the bronze-gilded statue of Prometheus.