Each and every year, people from all over the world flock to New York City’s Rockefeller Center. This landmark of Midtown Manhattan is famous for 30 Rockefeller Plaza (setting of the award-winning television show 30 Rock and home to NBC Studios), Radio City Music Hall, its ice skating rink, and the Top of the Rock Observation Deck. The Rockefeller Center Tour grants participants the chance to learn more about the history, art, and architecture of this popular attraction.
History of Rockefeller Center
John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the businessman most responsible for what we know today as Rockefeller Center, began acquiring property in Midtown Manhattan for the purpose of realizing his dream of a “city within New York City” in the late 1920s. By the time construction began in earnest on the project in 1931, hundreds of buildings had been torn down and thousands of people relocated to make way for the massive endeavor. By 1940, over a dozen of Rockefeller Center’s initial buildings were complete.
Throughout the remainder of the twentieth century, Rockefeller Center would continue to grow and evolve. Today, the entire complex comprises approximately 22 acres of land containing nearly 20 million square feet of office space. It was granted National Historic Landmark status in 1987, and its signature attractions remain as popular as ever.
What do you see on a Rockefeller Center Tour
The Rockefeller Center Tour is offered several times a day, seven days a week. A general admission ticket costs around $30 per person. If so inclined, you may opt to pair your Rockefeller Center Tour ticket with a ticket to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck. This combo “Rock Pass” goes for just under $60 per person. Admission to the Rockefeller Center Tour is also part of several different New York City attraction passes.
Each tour group is led by an expert guide who will share their knowledge about the history, art, and architecture of Rockefeller Center as you explore the facility’s many charming areas and distinctive features. The complex’s original buildings were built primarily during the 1930s, and today are considered masterpieces of the beloved Art Deco style. You’ll observe several of them closely during your time on the tour, including the one-and-only 30 Rock itself.
Your Rockefeller Center tour will place a special emphasis on the complex’s numerous public art installations. In particular, you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for incredible sculptures by the artists Michio Ihara, Isamu Noguchi, and Paul Manship, as well as unforgettable murals originally created by Sir Frank Brangwyn and Jose Maria Sert. And no Rockefeller Center tour would be complete without a stop at Prometheus, one of the most photographed sites in all of New York City.
If it’s the right time of year, your tour will include the Rockefeller Center ice skating rink. Regardless, you’ll be able to view the breathtaking Channel Gardens, the Associated Press building, and the set of the TODAY Show. The Rockefeller Center Tour is part-indoors, part-outdoors, so depending on the time of year, you’ll want to dress accordingly. It lasts around 75 minutes.
Tips for taking a Rockefeller Center Tour
- Rockefeller Center Tour is included on several money saving tourist passes including the New York Pass, Go NY All-Inclusive Pass and NY Explorer Pass.
- A significant number of visitors to Rockefeller Center take the guided tour first, then make their way to Top of the Rock Observation Deck. This makes for a good plan, but do keep in mind that the Top of the Rock Observation Deck can get very, very busy, especially during peak times. When in doubt, purchase your tickets in advance. That way, you both guarantee your time slot AND avoid the worst of the lines.
- The Rockefeller Center Tour runs regardless of weather conditions. If the forecast calls for rain, you’ll want to bring along an umbrella. The guide will NOT be providing umbrellas for guests, so you’ll need to come prepared if you don’t want to get wet during the outdoor portions of the experience.
- It’s important to note that neither NBC Studios or Radio City Music Hall are included in the Rockefeller Center Tour. Each of those attractions have their own tour you can take.
- The Rockefeller Center Tour is typically only offered in English, but visitors interested in alternatives may contact the Group Sales Department for information regarding translators.
- There are plenty of dining and shopping options at Rockefeller Center, and some of New York City’s most popular attractions are located nearby, too. Whether you want to visit the Museum of Modern Art, Madame Tussauds, or SPYSCAPE, you’ll be able to combine your trip to Rockefeller Center and another fun outing without any difficulty at all.