Radio City Music Hall is one of the most famous venues for live entertainment found anywhere in the world. Located in Midtown Manhattan, Radio City Music Hall is part of the fabled Rockefeller Center complex, and it hosts hundreds of events each and every year. Famous for its Christmas Spectacular, which stars the inimitable Rockettes, Radio City Music Hall has also been the stage of such extravaganzas as the Daytime Emmy Awards, the Grammy Awards, and the NFL Draft—to name but a few.
History of Radio City Music Hall
The development of Radio City Music Hall was spearheaded by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., heir to the Standard Oil fortune. In the wake of the great stock market crash of 1929, Rockefeller, Jr. forged ahead with his plans to transform a significant portion of Midtown Manhattan into a commercial centerpiece of New York City. As part of these elaborate plans, he enlisted the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) to partner with him in constructing a high-end theatre to anchor the newly made-over neighborhood.
The result was Radio City Music Hall. The designer Donald Deskey was hired to plan the interior of the structure, and what he came up with is still heralded today as an elegant example of modernist design. Almost a century after it opened its doors, it’s said that Radio City Music Hall has seen over 300 million people attend a live event within its hallowed halls, and its reputation as a major venue for live entertainment of all types is still going strong.
What’s at Radio City Music Hall
Radio City Music Hall bills itself as the “largest indoor theatre in the world,” and with that size comes several distinctive features. Radio City Music Hall’s iconic outdoor marquee is the length of an entire New York City block, and its stately auditorium has a ceiling that is over 80 feet tall at its peak. Of course, the real action takes place on the venue’s “Great Stage,” which possesses the world’s largest stage curtain, a performance organ that occupies eleven different rooms, and is lit by a whopping 25,000 lights.
Many people come to Radio City Music Hall for its live music concerts, comedy shows, orchestra performances, theatre productions, and more. However, one of the most popular ways to experience Radio City Music Hall is by going on a Stage Door Tour of the venue. These guided tours typically last about 75-minutes. Along the way you’ll get exclusive glimpses of behind-the-scenes spaces while learning all about the historic site. You might even meet a Rockette!
When visiting Radio City Music Hall, you’ll find yourself in the heart of Midtown Manhattan and the Rockefeller Center complex. This means you’ll be surrounded by no shortage of world-class dining establishments and shopping opportunities. You’ll also be mere blocks from other notable attractions like the Museum of Modern Art, Top of the Rock Observation Deck, Times Square, and more.
Tips for Visiting Radio City Music Hall
- The Radio City Music Hall is included on several money saving tourist passes including the New York Sightseeing Pass and TurboPass New York.
- Outside food and drink are strictly prohibited at Radio City Music Hall. If you’re in need of a quick pick-me-up, though, Radio City Sweets & Gifts sells an assortment of treats, snacks, and candies. Located on-site, it’s a good spot to grab something to eat on your way out of the venue, as well as snag that souvenir of your experience.
- Given its prominent location on Sixth Avenue in Midtown, you’re going to want to take public transportation (or walk) when you’re headed to Radio City Music Hall. Parking in this area will prove an expensive nightmare, so avoid it if you can.
- If you’re taking a rideshare to Radio City Music Hall, aim for 5th Avenue between West 50th Street and West 51st Street. That’s considered Radio City Music Hall’s best drop-off point.
- Try and combine your tour of Radio City Music Hall with a visit to one of the other major New York City attractions found nearby. For instance, seeing MoMA or going to the Top of the Rock on the same day as you do Radio City Music Hall will save you time and energy in the long run.