The meeting place of Manhattanites, the Rockefeller Center consists of 19 buildings across five large city blocks and nine hectares and was America's first multi-use retail, office and entertainment complex. This sprawling cultural centre was the vision of philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr as a space for locals and visitors to enjoy his beloved city of New York.
Constructed during the Great Depression, the project took nine years to complete and employed 40,000 people. The Rockefeller Center opened in 1933 with a mix of arts and entertainment through 14 Art Deco-style buildings, public sculptures and outdoor plazas including the Rainbow Room ballroom, a skating rink, Radio City Music Hall and the Observation Roof.
The centre now occupies between 47th Street and 50th Street in Midtown Manhattan. For a fantastic view of NYC, head to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck with three viewing platforms and panoramic vistas from 70 stories high. General admission tickets are US$27 for adults, US$17 for kids aged six to 12 with children under six for free.
Other Rockefeller Center must-sees include The Rink at Rockefeller Center, open during fall and winter, and the giant twinkling Christmas tree; the lush greenery of the Channel Gardens; and the subterranean Concourse which offers access to all buildings in the compound, shops and eateries as well as seven subway lines.
Artistic elements to keep an eye out for include the 'Prometheus' and 'Atlas' sculptures. NBC TV's 'Today Show' is taped live from 7 am to 10 am daily in the original glass-fronted studio at its home at the GE Building, dubbed '30 Rock'. NBC Studio Tours depart every 15 or 30 minutes depending on the day for a backstage look at the TV station. Tickets for the 70-minute tour are US$24 for adults and US$21 for children aged six to 12 with kids under six not permitted.
The Rockefeller Center also runs tours to offer an insight into this 'city within a city' through the art and architecture of the surrounds. Tickets are US$17 and run on the hour daily from 10 am. To visit, take subway lines F, D, B or V to 47-50th Street Rockefeller Center.