The 19-unit Art-Deco complex that is Rockefeller Center is one of New York’s most popular tourist destinations. Every year, the center hosts the largest Christmas tree in the country, films a handful of national television’s most popular primetime talk shows, and is the site of a handful of popular television shows, including Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock. The center, completed in 1939 and named for John D. Rockefeller Jr., the son of the Standard Oil Founder John D. Rockefeller, exemplifies the crossroads of entertainment, corporate America, retail, and tourism, that is the Big Apple.
You can now step inside Rockefeller Center and learn all of its secrets on Untapped New York’s Secrets of Rockefeller Center tours!
Secrets of Rockefeller Center
On the tour, you will walk through a room covered in gold and escape the tourist crowds in a little-known park with an urban waterfall. After learning about Rockefeller Center‘s only demolished building, a lost Art Deco theater, you will visit two holdout buildings owned by people who never agreed to sell to Rockefeller and discover how they are being used today. As an added bonus, you will decode the meaning behind the world-famous art that covers the complex and discover the surprising story behind the world-famous Rockefeller Christmas tree. Read on to discover the top 10 secrets of Rockefeller Center!
1. Two holdout buildings almost stopped the construction of Rockefeller Center
In the midst of the Great Depression, most landlords were pleased or at least amenable to Rockefeller’s offers to buy the land, except for the owners of the two townhouses on either end of 30 Rock. Forced to build above and around the two townhouses, the 70-story 30 Rockefeller Plaza building remains sandwiched between two three-and-four story structures.
A Magnolia Bakery currently occupies the former Hurley’s, a bar and saloon that opened in the 1890s and later became a famed watering hole for the media industry. The three Hurley brothers were hardly fazed by Rockefeller, asking for an absurdly high sum to underscore their refusal to leave. As one Hurley brother said, “I’ve seen sonofabitchin’ Rockefellers come and sonofabitchin’ Rockefellers go and no sonofabitchin’ Rockefeller’s gonna tear down my bar.” Less theatrical but equally firm in his refusal to leave, John Maxwell simply refused to negotiate at all, whether in seriousness or not. As such, his stout building still stands today.