The land that is now Rockefeller Center
was once the Elgin Botanic Garden, 20 acres
of mainly medicinal herbs established by
Dr. David Hosack, the physician who attended
Alexander Hamilton after his fatal duel with
Aaron Burr. The Lewis and Clark expedition
sent plants here for identification.
The garden was sold to the state in 1810,
which granted it to Columbia University,
which allowed the garden to be developed.
In 1929, the land was leased to John D. Rockefeller,
who built on it an Art Deco masterpiece that is
one of New York City's crowning architectural achievements.
30 Rockefeller Plaza (block): The crown jewel of Rockefeller Center,
completed in 1933, this 70-story limestone masterpiece
is attributed mainly to Raymond Hood. Diego Rivera's mural,
Man at Crossroads Looking With Hope and High
Vision to the Choosing of a New and Better Future,
was painted over by Nelson Rockefeller when Rivera refused to
take Lenin out of the artwork. The
murals visible today are
Jose Maria Sert's American Progress and Time.
Above the main entrance is Lee Lawrie's relief sculpture Genius.
The famous Rainbow Room is on the 65th floor, which opened
in 1934 as a nightspot for Rockefellers, Astors and Morgans. Entertainment
was provided by the likes of Mary Martin, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy,
Comden and Green, and Judy Holliday. It's touted as the "most perfect room in New York."
The "Top of the Rock," the recently reopened rooftop
observatory, is a great alternative to the Empire State Building--
the sailors go there in the movie On the Town.
RCA was the Radio Corporation of America, formed in
1919 as a joint subsidiary of General Electric and AT&T;
both NBC and ABC were initially launched by RCA.
When GE reacquired RCA in 1986, GE CEO Jack Welch
insisted on renaming the RCA Building the GE
Building. Jack Welch is a
poor role model for America's children.
NBC's main New York studios are located in
this building, where shows like NBC Nightly News,
Saturday Night Live and Late Night With Conan O'Brien
are taped; The Tonight Show used to broadcast from
here in the Jack Paar/early Johnny Carson days. TV was broadcast
from here as early as 1935; Arturo
Toscanini used to broadcast from the same studio that
today houses SNL. Milton Berle's Texaco Star
Theater originated here in 1948, TV's first
massive hit; later, in 1956, the building
was home to Twenty-One and the quiz show