StellaBella By City: Rockefeller Center

After writing the post about my career shift as of late... it makes me reminisce on my favorite times at The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, in the heart of Rockefeller Center.  I dedicated an entire segment of StellaBella to travel with my StellaBella By City series, so why not also contribute my own!  Like no other, New York City could have a separate post for each neighborhood, so this first will be dedicated to the beauty of Rockefeller Center.  And in timing with the Christmas Tree Lighting tonight, it is still my favorite way to ring in the Holiday season!  This annual event reminds me how much I appreciate my time spent with great friends & the architecture and history that thrive there.  More about how I celebrated during my time there below...

Rockefeller Center is a complex of 19 commercial buildings in the heart of midtown Manhattan, tied together through an underground Concourse level full of shops, restaurants and access to the subway (B D F M).  Due to the popularity of the NBC hit, 30 Rock and the live taping of Good Morning America daily - the actual Center itself has become a tourist attraction topping everyone's NYC must-see list.

When visiting Rockefeller Center for whatever reason; tours, shopping, dining, seeing a taping at NBC, or a show at Radio City Music Hall - don't forget to look up and enjoy the art deco styled architecture.  This part of New York is like no other; each building in the complex has unique medallions, relief sculptures, ceiling murals, and mosaic tiling.

The above relief sculpture hangs above the east entrance to 30 Rock, near the rink. The verse is from Isaiah 33:6 "Wisdom and Knowledge Shall Be the Stability of thy Times"

Below was my office on the 25th floor of 45 Rock in 2012.  My view looking out over the ice rink was never boring.  Throughout the day, you could hear the hustle and bustle of tourists, if the ice was open or the Rink Bar was built over, in the summer months.  Then add in the ice skating music, Salvation Army Santa, singing and ringing their bell, dress rehearsals and sound check; I'm surprised I was able to get work done!

45 Rock, or 630 5th Avenue between 50th &51st Street is also known as The International Building (north)...

In order to attract foreign investors and traders to the Center in the 1930's, John D. Rockefeller Jr. conceived the idea of providing Europeans with their own buildings.   4 outwardly similar low buildings all face 5th Avenue, and were designed for that use.  The British Empire and French Buildings were the first, then Italy and Germany showed interest.  However, due to the outbreak of war in Europe the German constituent cancelled, and 45 Rock was named the International North building instead.

Recessed between the building wings, stands the largest sculpture in Rock Center, Lee Lawrie's Atlas (1937); whose appearance suited the previously planned tenants artistic style.  More significant to an 80's baby like me, it has famously been part of the NBC's Saturday Night Live intro for most of its 40 seasons.  

Rockefeller Center represents a turning point in architectural sculpture; a major building project incorporating a program of integrated public art by different artists.  Paul Manship's recognizable bronze gilded statue of the Greek Titan Prometheus, bringing fire to mankind; is featured prominently  and infamously in the sunken plaza.  The granite on the wall behind reads: "Prometheus, teacher in every art, brought the fire that hath proved to mortals a means to mighty ends."  

StellaBella & Big Ronnie, Aug '11

And here comes the tree...

view from my office window

During the busiest time of year for the program that I administered, I was always surprised on the cold November morning when I turned the corner from the morning commute, and saw the (larger than life) annual tree!  It was almost a more special moment than the actual lighting ceremony, it was more intimate.  Me and a couple security guards, a few european tourists, and other commuters rushing into the office: we watched them drag & hoist the tree into place, and figure out how to start constructing it to perfection!

Once I had settled into my position on the 25th floor, I realized that no one from my company participated in the tree lighting event.  They actually would leave the office early, sneaking out through the corridors of the Concourse before the crowds started to swell.  So, I started hosting my own champagne toast!  It was always a night I could get extra work done, if I stayed late - so why not throw a party too!  I thought it was my duty as a New York woman to take advantage of the view, and share the experience with those I loved!  The first year was a small gathering, but as the word got around - there was a guest list.    

I hope you enjoy watching the tree lighting, and if you travel to NYC during this time of year, you must see the tree in person!  I had so many pictures over the years, and I chose just a few.  It just is not the same as seeing it in person.  And there is so much to do before & after! 

StellaBella's Favorite Spots
The Rink Bar (seasonal)
Johnny Utah
H&M (1st US location)
MoMA Gift Shop
Pig-n-Whistle (Irish pub, StellaBella & Big Ronnie's 1st date!)
J. Crew
Sea Grill
Saks Fifth Avenue

Travel as much as possible, enjoy the experience, but always enjoy coming back to your happy home!  Happy Holidays!

La vita è bella,

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