About Rockefeller Center Tour
Rockefeller Center may be best known for its popular Top of the Rock Observation Deck and as the headquarters of NBC, but the center’s rich history and splendid public art is equally fascinating.
For a lively overview, join the Rockefeller Center Tour, where a local historian will guide you throughout the center, from its Art Deco buildings to Radio City Music Hall to eye-catching sculptures and murals. Along the way, you’ll learn about the center’s intriguing past – and its founders, the Rockefeller family – via historical facts, figures and anecdotes, all of which you can listen to on headsets that are wirelessly connected to your guide.
Rockefeller Center can claim plenty of superlatives: Upon completion, as many historians have noted, it was the largest private building project in modern history. It was also one of the last major architectural projects that incorporated an avid program of public art; this art is the focus of the Rockefeller Center Tour. Works you’ll visit and learn about along the way include the gilded statue of Prometheus by Paul Manship; the mighty Atlas holding up a globe by sculptor Lee Lawrie, who has the distinction of having contributed the most art pieces to the center; Isamu Noguchi’s eye-catching bas-relief News; and Catalan artistJosep Maria Sert’sstunning mural, American Progress,which features such well-known historical figures as Abraham Lincoln and Mahatma Gandhi.
Additionally, the Rockefeller Center Tour delves into the history of Art Deco, and the guide will point out seminal examples throughout the center, from bas-relief to sleek doorways and staircases to the GE building itself. The tour is also filled with unique stories and “Did you know?” anecdotes, from funny tales about J. Fred Muggs, a frisky chimpanzee that was the Today Show’s mascot in the 1950s, to the fascinating story behind Diego Rivera’s controversial mural, and why it was ultimately removed.
Approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes
Did you know?
The GE Building’s nickname is “The Slab” because of its hefty limestone base.
The famous, annual Rockefeller Christmas tree is generally between 75 and 90 feet tall, and requires up to five miles of lights.
According to Rockefeller Center calculations, around 1 million people walk through the center every year.
The GE Building’s original lobby mural was by the famous Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. But, because it controversially depicted Lenin, the Rockefellers had it removed and replaced by the Sert mural.
The Radio City Music Hall is the largest indoor theater in the world, and more than 3,000 women have danced as the Rockettes.
The tour offers both a general overview of Rockefeller Center and in-depth history, making it equally appealing to first-time visitors and those who are already familiar with the city. The tour is also a big hit with art-lovers, because it stops at most of the best-known public art pieces around the center.
Good for kids?
The tour focuses on the history and art of Rockefeller Center, so it will appeal to kids who are pre-teen or older, and particularly those who have an interest in American history.
Rockefeller Center Tour Location Information:
West 50th Street between 5th & 6th Aves
New York, NY 10112
About the Rockefeller Center Tour
Rockefeller Center is huge, with a wide variety of buildings and plazas that sprawl over an impressive 22 acres, between 48th and 51st Sts. and 5th and 6th Aves. The centerpiece is the stately GE building, home to NBC, which looms over the entire complex.
Packed with restaurants, cafés and casual eateries, both in the underground food mall and outside, around the plaza, there is no shortage of good — and varied — dining options around Rockefeller Center. Dine onfresh seafood at the popularrestaurantThe Sea Grill, grab a quick bite at Bouchon Bakery, enjoy a cocktail at Morrell Wine Bar and go for dessert at Magnolia Cupcakes.