In the heart of Mid Town Manhattan lies the iconic Rockefeller Center Plaza. Built by John D. Rockefeller Jr. on property that was originally leased from Columbia University, Rockefeller Center has become a hub of media activity and architecture. The complex is made up of 19 buildings and is situated on approximately 22 acres along Fifth Avenue between 48th and 51st streets.
The original complex was made up of 14 buildings with five other buildings added during the 1960s and 1970s. The Art Deco style of many Plaza buildings reflects the architectural trends of the time that includes the Empire State and Chrysler buildings. Since the complex first opened in 1939, a long list of famous companies have called Rockefeller Center home. Even a unit of the British intelligence service and the American OSS, later the CIA, had a home in Rockefeller Center during World War II.
From the Radio Corporation of America, RCA, Building to Time-Life, corporate America looked to Rockefeller Center as the place to be. After being acquired in the late 1980s, the RCA Building became home to General Electric, GE. GE owns the National Broadcasting Company, NBC, and the NBC studios are housed at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. The 1980s ushered in another major transition when Columbia University sold the property to a management group.
Since the complex was completed in 1939, only one of the original Rockefeller Center buildings was razed. The old RKO Theater was later converted to the Center Theater. In 1954, the building was torn down to make room for a new office building.
One of the most iconic and best-known buildings in the plaza complex is the venerable Radio City Music Hall. Radio City Music Hall is home to the world famous Rockettes and has played host to a long and distinguished list of world-class performers.
Like many historic buildings in New York City, Rockefeller Plaza features an observation deck. Known as the Top of the Rock, the observation desk sits 850 feet above the street and provides visitors with a spectacular view of the city. The observation deck dates back to 1933, three years after construction began on Rockefeller Center and six before the construction of the center was completed. Like the observation deck at the Empire State Building, the observation deck at 30 Rock is a popular tourist attraction.