I Wanna Rock!

I walk everywhere.  I walk and walk and walk!  And as a novice to all things New York, I’m in awe each time I discover something new.  We all know 30 Rock is the home of Saturday Night Live, the show, 30 Rock and NBC News Studios.  So when I decided to school myself about Rockefeller Plaza, meaning 30 Rock, I discovered I stepped into a whole new city.  I mean, I fell into John D. Rockefeller, Jr.’s “city within a city”!  I’m still astounded when I’m walking down a street in midtown Manhattan and I’m passing a building that is a part of Rockefeller Center.  On any given day I am in the middle of what was once boasted to be the 57thlargest city in the United States.  Did I ever have a lot to learn!

There are just some things a person must do whether as a tourist or resident if one wants to be educated in all things Big Apple.  Yes, I wore comfy clothes and shoes, strapped on my camera then set off to take a tour of Rockefeller Center.  And I’m glad I did because I not only gained an education but I burned calories as well. Man, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and later those who shared his vision did it and did it BIG! I mean, they brought it!

We’re all familiar with the art of buying and selling.  Whenever you are making a purchase, there are always various packages from which to select.  There’s the basic package and then there are add-ons.  Buying entry to Rockefeller Plaza was no different.  When the ticket booth attendant began her sales pitch I had the biggest “get on with it” look on my face.  But thankfully something she said gained my full attention and what I consider `a la carte heightened my interest.

It was like I was celebrating something special and was ordering a meal in a fine restaurant when the main course just wouldn’t do.  I wanted an appetizer, salad and two vegetables to make my meal complete.  I felt as if I even had room for dessert.  I was certain I was getting my money’s worth!

For those who watch Big Bang Theory, think back to the Herb Garden Germination episode Sheldon and Amy make fun of Brian Greene when he “dummied down” Werner Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle for those who love the show!  Below is a layout for purchasing tickets similar to the Brian Greene’s that made Sheldon and Amy giddy with delight.

Ticket Menu

Column  A


Column B


Column C

Observation Deck

Rockefeller Center Tour

Combo Tickets

Adult                             $25.00



Child (6-12)                  $16.00
Senior (62+)                  $23.00
Sunrise Sunset              $38.00
Sunrise Sunset Child     $20.00

You can purchase tickets ahead of time by going to Top of the Rock website.  For those wanting to be romantic and/or love to take pictures you might want the Sunrise/Sunset tickets as you can go to the Observation Deck twice.  Be sure to download the podcast to enjoy during your tour via iPod or mp3 player.

When I walk around the original buildings I couldn’t help to think about Miami, Florida.  The architecture is Art Deco which is prominent throughout Miami. I’m sure it was “the thing” during the time of construction. It definitely makes a statement.  Then there’s the incredible amount of art throughout each building.  The extensive collection of expensive art and high-end finishes adorned the interior and exterior.  Being a novice of art appreciation, I was unfamiliar with many of the artists commissioned to provide pieces.  And the mere number of buildings that made up Rockefeller Center was enough to make your head swirl.

And to make the experience all the more wonderful, I was more than pleased with our tour guide as she provided the juicy gossipy tidbits that were like the dessert one so longs for at the end of a meal.  From what I remember, his oldest child and only daughter Abbie, often called Babs was quite the handful.

About John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

  • Born in Cleveland, Ohio on January 29, 1874
  • Only son of a family of four
  • Graduated from Brown University in 1897
  • After four years of courtship, married daughter of a U.S. senator from Rhode Island, Abby Aldrich
  • Had one daughter and five sons
  • Taught his children the value of money by insisting they earn allowance by completing chores; having to account for every penny, they could only spend one-third of their earnings
  • His father founded Standard Oil Company, University of Chicago(along with the American Baptist Education Society)and the Rockefeller Foundation
  • Served as a director of Standard Oil and U.S. Steel Company
  • In order to separate himself from controversies surrounding both companies and focus on his philanthropic efforts, Jr. resigned from both director positions
  • Incredible philanthropist; gifts to charities estimated to be $537 million
  • Originally planned to build an opera house for the Metropolitan Opera halted due to stock market crash in 1929
  • Financing the project himself, Rockefeller Jr. acquired a line of credit from Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and sold Standard Oil stock to finance the original 14 building Rockefeller Center project
  • Signed an 87 year lease with original land owner Columbia University on which to build
  • Died in 1960 at the age of 86 in Arizona

I didn’t know in the 30’s…

  • Giant Christmas Tree tradition began adorning the Center in 1931, before first building opened
  • 30 Rockefeller Plaza opens in May, 1933
  • Construction project successfully brought jobs to more than 75,000 people during the most decrepit time of the year, The Great Depression
  • Was the largest building project of it day
  • Skating rink opens December 25, 1936
  • John D. Rockefeller Jr. drives in the last rivet celebrating the completion of the Rockefeller Center project’s original 14 buildings in 1939
  • Gone with the Wind was produced in one of the 5th Avenue buildings
  • The Christmas Spectacular debuted

Enjoying the View!

I didn’t know in the 40’s…

  • Rockefeller Center was originally named Radio Center
  • Original 14 buildings completed at a cost of $100 million
  • Radio City Music Hall was once a venue for watching movies
  • Because of the military’s needs, Rockefeller Center tour guides were all female
  • Full capacity was reached by 1946 with 400 business on the waiting list
  • In 1948, ownership of Rockefeller Center was transferred to his five sons
  • All time high attendance rates at Radio City Music Hall; there was a time when more than 11,000 people stood in line to watch a movie

I didn’t know in the 50’s…

  • First mortgage paid off 17 years after the opening of 30 Rockefeller Center
  • Because of the Cold War, air raid drills were conducted regularly
  • Debut of The Today Show at 30 Rockefeller Center
  • The Center Theatre, formerly the RKO Roxy Theatre was demolished in 1954, the only Rockefeller Center building to be torn down
  • The Howdy Doody Show is the venue where the annual Christmas Tree is first shown on television
  • Rockefeller Center is fully air-conditioned

I didn’t know in the 60’s…

  • Philanthropist and visionary John D. Rockefeller Jr., dies
  • Rockefeller Center initiates a fallout shelter program again due to the second Cold War
  • Radio City Music Hall continues to be successful setting a single week attendance record of 165, 225 with the film Bye, Bye Birdie
  • Rockefeller is beyond capacity with 10% renters on a waiting list
  • Longest running movie record of 14 weeks is set by the film The Odd Couple at Radio City Music Hall
  • A terror bomb is detonated on the 20th floor of 30 Rockefeller center without injury
  • Rockefeller Center increases the number of buildings

Night Vision

I didn’t know in the70’s…

  • Real estate slump brought about noticeable vacancies
  • Tenant population makes “The city within a city” the 57th largest city in the United States
  • The world watches the fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier via closed-circuit
  • Honor of being the second most significant piece of architecture in America given by the American Institute of Architects
  • Boxer Joe Frazier turns singer as he belts out sweet sounds in the Rainbow Room with orchestra and back-up chorus
  • The state of New York bailed out Radio Music Hall, preventing its closure
  • Radio Music Hall is transformed into a venue for live performances
  • Rockefeller increases in growth again, bring total to 21 buildings spread across 22 acres                                                                                          .

I didn’t know in the 80’s…

  • The façade of 30 Rockefeller Center receives night lighting
  • Rockefeller purchases the land from Columbia University for $400 million
  • The original buildings were declared a National Historic Landmark
  • Mortgage of $1.3 billion taken on Rockefeller Center
  • Majority interest was purchased by Mistubishi Estate Company for $846 million

I didn’t know in the 90’s….

  • Frank Sinatra serenaded fans at Radio City Music hall, selling out five straight shows
  • After being held hostage for seven years in Lebanon, Associated Press reporter Terry Anderson he was welcomed to the AP offices at 50 Rockefeller Plaza complete with a rose-petal shower
  • Rockefeller Center was in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection
  • Incredible slump in tenancy with a 26% vacancy rate
  • Controlling ownership goes from Mitsubishi to Goldman Sachs, Tishman Speyer, and David Rockefeller in 1997

I didn’t know in the 2000’s…

  • Full control of Rockefeller Center is acquired by Tishman
  • Vacancy rate is less than 1%
  • Rockefeller Center celebrated its 75th birthday in 2008






















About ksimonewilson

I'm looking forward to sharing my New York experiences that have been highlighted on television and in movies.

4 responses »

  1. I LOVE your everything-New-York blog! I’ve only been to NYC once, but I want to go back so badly. I need to read more of your blog — but are you originally from NYC, or did you move there?

  2. Cool post. All I remember from the Top of the Rock was that it was winter, so freezing cold, and my boyfriend made me stay up there way too long while he captured the sun going down with his fancy camera… kinda took the good out of it, as I couldn’t wait to leave, in the end! Nothing like a little enforced waiting to remove the joy from a new experience 🙂

    • I recall the time I went went my boyfriend too. It wasn’t cold but there were major renovations going on and the line was crazy. I did truly enjoy the experience when things weren’t so hectic! Thanks for following!!!

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