Rockefeller Center Tour  

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rockefeller Center, in New York City.Image via Wikipedia

30 Rockefeller Plz
New York, NY 10112-0015
$23.45 for combo ticket with NBC Studio Tour

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It was another day to myself in New York.  After wandering Macy's all morning looking at Christmas stuff, I went down to Rockefeller Center.

No, the tree wasn't lit yet, and I did all the shopping I was going to pretty quickly. I decided to take the NBC Studio Tour.

Now, the tour on its own was a bit more expensive than I was thrilled with ($18.50), but a combination ticket -- which includes both the NBC tour and the Rockefeller Center tour -- was only $23.45, which divided equally is less than $12.00 per tour.  Not bad.

I was actually kind of disappointed with the NBC tour. I had taken it before, and I think it was better the first time


The tour starts in the cafe at the NBC store. While I waited, I played some free video games that involve catching and reading current headlines. The machines weren't in great condition, but considering how many people must play with them, I wasn't expecting much.

Our guide met us and handed out headphones. In order to allow for freedom of movement, the tour guides speak into a microphone that broadcasts into the tourists' headsets. I was a bit concerned, as my headset's cord was a little frayed and patched with tape. It worked fine, though.

However, our guide's microphone did not, so we had to wait for her to get that replaced.

The tour started out in the lobby of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, where we looked at the murals and heard the stories of the politics behind them.  We examined the technically-but-not-officially-religious mural, the space where a Communist mural had been taken down, and a mural on the ceiling that seems to change perspective when you look up at it from different sections of the lobby.  From there we went outside (so dress for the weather) and began to examine the different buildings at Rockefeller Center.

The center was designed and built during the Great Depression in hopes of stimulating the economy.  John D. Rockefeller Jr. called in favors from his father's business partners, and convinced both corporations and nations to rent space in the many suites and buildings he had constructed.  Each building is decorated to reflect the culture that inhabits it, from the homage to British industry on the exterior of the British Empire Building, to the former Eastern Airline's history of flight. 

While the tree wasn't lit at that point, it was up and ready.  Our guide told us a few fun facts about the tree, such as the fact that starting last year, the tree is lit with solar-powered LED lights.  Very nice.


Go... when the time is right.
I'm sure the tour is amazing during the Christmas season, but otherwise I would wait until the spring -- or at least until we get another one of those unseasonably warm days we've been having about once a week all this month.  Most of the tour is outside, so you'll want to dress accordingly.

The rest of the Internet

Daniel's Manhattan Architecture discusses the art, architecture, and history of the complex.
New York Architecture Images has some great pictures.

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