Rockefeller Center, New York City Rockefeller Center, originally known as Radio City is a complex of buildings developed in the midst of the Great Depression. Initially the complex consisted of 14 buildings, the 70 story RCA building being the tallest. Metropolitan Opera The area where the Rockefeller Center is located was originally planned as the new location for the Metropolitan Opera. The original area, between 48th and 51st streets, Fifth and Sixth avenue, was a red-light district owned by Columbia University.John D. Rockefeller Jr. leased the area on behalf of the Metropolitan Opera. The design of the complex was done by the architect Benjamin Wistar Morris. When the Met abandoned the project after the 1929 stock market crash, Rockefeller came up with a plan for a corporate complex to house the new radio and television corporations. Radio City was born. Radio City One of the first buildings completed was the RCA building, which served as the headquarters of the Radio Corporation of America. The tower, clad in Indiana limestone, is at 70 stories and 256 meter / 850 ft the tallest of the complex. Its design by Raymond Hood - also known from the American Radiator Building in New York, the former McGraw-Hill building in New York and the Tribune Tower in Chicago - was the basis for all future buildings at the Rockefeller. To lure tenants during the Depression, all efforts were made to ensure efficient use of the available floor space. Thanks to the setbacks each office was assured of natural light. Other assets were fast elevators, air-conditioning and excellent underground connections to the subway. The RCA building is now also known as 30 Rockefeller Plaza or GE Building. Top of the Rock - the Observation Deck The Rockefeller Center features an observation deck atop the GE Building with panoramic views of Central Park and the Empire State Building. When the former RCA building opened in 1933 it featured a roof terrace designed as the deck of an ocean liner. Ventilation pipes were shaped as a ship's chimneys and visitors could relax in deck chairs. The observation deck remained open until 1986. By then the number of visitors had dropped while costs increased. At the same time the expansion of the popular Rainbow Room restaurant on the 65th floor cut off the elevator access to the roof, leading to the deck's closure. Fortunately the observation deck reopened again in November 2005, finally giving the nearby Empire State Building's observatory some competition. After a renovation of some 75 million dollars, the art-deco style observation deck, promoted as the 'Top of the Rock' can be visited once again; only the deck chairs have disappeared. A separate entrance at West 50th Street leads to the elevators. In the elevator, important historic events since 1933 are projected on the elevator's transparent roof. There are in total three levels open to the public, including the roof terrace. The first is on the 67th floor and is completely covered.The observation deck on the 69th floor has glass windshields while the 70th floor is completely open to the elements, offering visitors a fabulous 360 degree view. Radio City By 1940 Radio City, which became known as Rockefeller Center consisted of 14 buildings, located around a central sunken plaza, the Lower Plaza. The plaza, best known for its very popular skating rink, is connected to Fifth Avenue via a pedestrian street decorated with statues and flowers. It is known as the Channel Gardens, as it is flanked by the British Empire Building and La Maison Française. From the Channel Gardens you have a nice view on the sculpture of Prometheus and the GE building. Another important building in the Rockefeller Center is the Radio City Music Hall. When built, it was the largest indoor theater in the world with a seating capacity of around 6000. Guided tours give you the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the spectacular Art Deco interior.turkeyarena.com A City in the City The Rockefeller Center, known as the 'city in the city' is an exceptional example of civic planning. All buildings share a common design style, Art Deco, and are connected to each other via an underground concourse, the Catacombs. The complex is nevertheless well integrated in the City, especially along Fifth Avenue. In 1959 and the early seventies, the Rockefeller Center was extended with 5 additional buildings along sixth Avenue.