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Aim, Focus, Shoot - The HyPyC blog
The Rockefeller Centre - New York

The Rockefeller Centre - A Historic building complex

The Rockefeller Centre is a complex of commercial buildings constructed between 1930-1939 by the Rockefeller family in Midtown Manhattan. I've always been intrigued by this complex, particularly the GE building, and I find the notion of a powerful family building their empire in New York fascinating.

The Rockefeller family is considered to be one of the most powerful families in the history of the United States, making their money originally through the oil business

I consider the Rockefeller Centre a must see sight in New York; It's a great place to visit with plenty to do, is in close proximity to Central Park and Times Square, and has one of the best view points to see the Manhattan Skyline in the area.

How to get there?

The complex is located between 48th and 51st streets in Midtown Manhattan, spanning across 5th and 6th Avenue, with the GE building smack bang in the middle. As our hotel was on 7th Avenue and 52nd street we chose to walk to the complex – It took around 5 minutes and was easy enough to find (The buildings are bloody huge!!). I would advise walking from anywhere in the midtown region – I found the streets of Manhattan fascinating to walk through – There is so much going on and some amazing architecture to admire.

Map showing Midtown and the Rockefeller Centre

If you are further afield the closest subway station is the self titled Rockefeller Centre stop on the orange line (B, D or M) – This is literally right underneath the complex. For more information on the New York subway system visit the official MTA page – People can find the subway daunting and confusing but I found it quite easy to use and it helped greatly to get around Manhattan island when the walking distance was too far.

Make sure you check if a subway line operates all the time – Certain lines only run on certain days etc
View from the Top of the Rock Top of a builing with grass on! Looking across to Central Park Bank of America building Event at night in the Plaza GE Building lit up at night Event at night in the Plaza

What to do?

Top of the Rock – This was the main draw to the Rockefeller Centre for me – The famous Top of the Rock observation deck at the top of the GE building. I wanted to see the New York Skyline (including the Empire State building), and I maintain that the TOTR is the best way to do this – From the top you can see the whole of Manhattan island and have great views of the Empire State building and Central Park – It's simply magnificent. You can buy tickets online beforehand or purchase them at the entrance (The entrance is clearly signposted). Ticket prices for a single adult entry as of September 2014 are $29.00

Who can pass up on unrivalled views of the Manhattan skyline including such famous buildings as the METLIFE, Chrysler and Empire State buildings

Once inside you take a lift up to the top - It's quite cool as there are flashing colored lights and a countdown as you reach the top. When you have ascended there is a gift shop and some historical information; I bypassed these and just went straight outside to the viewing area - There are two levels, the first of which has high panes of glass stopping you from getting decent photos, while the second level up has no guards/glass so I would advise going up to the top level straight away for the best photo opportunities.

First viewing area of the Top of the Rock

Once you are on the topmost level you are treated to 360 degree views of New York; I could have stayed up there for hours, I found it fascinating - The endless high-rise buildings reaching up to the sky, all competing for space like plant life on the forest floor reaching for the sun. Watching the streams of traffic hundreds of meters below and the bustle of city life. Seeing the Statue of Liberty far off in the distance, seeing the new World Trade Centre under construction, seeing all the famous skyscrapers and landmarks - I could go on! Just go to the Top of the Rock and experience it for yourself, the concrete jungle is stunning!

Artistic shot looking across to the Empire State

Rockefeller Plaza/Concourse - Next to the GE building is the plaza and underground shopping centre, this is also worth a visit. The plaza is an open square surrounded by the high-rise buildings and during winter months it is converted into an Ice-rink and has a huge Christmas tree. There are various shops and restaurants surrounding the plaza and the underground shopping concourse stretches from 47th to 51st street. We were lucky enough to see part of a concert in the plaza at night - the place was packed and the live music was really good, plus the GE building looks spectacular lit up at night.

Looking across to Central Park

Radio City Music Hall & NBC Studios - These two famous buildings/landmarks are both in the Rockefeller complex. The Radio City Music Hall is a famous entertainment venue once dubbed "The Showplace of the Nation" and is currently used for stage productions. The NBC studios are within the GE Building and you can book guided tours - Famous shows such as The Today Show, The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live have all been recorded here.

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