30 Rockefeller Plaza. Image via thousandwonders.net
This 19 unit Art-Deco complex is one of New York’s most popular tourist destinations. Every year, it hosts the largest Christmas tree in the country, films a handful of national television’s most popular primetime talkshows as well as the 40 year-old ‘Saturday Night Live,’ and is probably the only New York landmark with a show, the Tina Fey creation ’30 Rock,’ named after its centerpiece, the GE Building. Rockefeller Center is one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks. It draws millions at all times of the year and exemplifies the crossroads of entertainment, corporate America, retail, and tourism, that is the Big Apple. It was completed in 1939 and named for John D. Rockefeller Jr., the son of the Standard Oil Founder John D. Rockefeller Sr. Rockefeller Center is a high traffic Manhattan destination, and has its fair share of secrets intwining it firmly with the city’s history and character. Here are 10 that we found the most eye-catching:
10. It’s the World’s Largest Privately Owned Complex
When John D. Rockefeller, Jr. planned Rockefeller Center in the early twentieth century, he meant for it to be “the grandest plaza in all of New York.” He leased the area in Midtown Manhattan that would become his namesake office complex from Columbia University in 1928, hoping to strike a deal with the Metropolitan Opera and built a newer, grander opera house.
In 1929, the stock market crash forced the Met to back out, and Rockefeller, deciding to go ahead with the purchase anyway, became the sole financier of the large plot of land, and the even larger aspirations he had for it. He received a 27-year lease from Columbia University and began construction in 1930, paying for additions with Standard Oil stocks and working out a line of credit with the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. The center’s construction took three years and Rockefeller financed the $100 million project himself.
Upon its completion in 1933, it was–and still is–the world’s largest privately owned complex. But were it not for one fateful transaction, Rockefeller Center might have lost that title to a “Dream City” by developer William Zeckendorf, Sr. just a few avenues away.