One of New York’s iconic sites is the world famous Rockefeller Center. From the ice skating rink and the startlingly beautiful Christmas tree in the winter to the fountains, bronze sculpture of Atlas holding up the world and the gilded Prometheus in the Lower Plaza, the great landmarks of Rockefeller center can be recognized at a glance.
Rockefeller Center was built in the depths of the Great Depression of the 1930’s, employing more than 40,000 workers while the country suffered double digit unemployment. At the time, John D. Rockefeller Jr. was well known for his philanthropic activities, but his plan to create a “city within a city” is said by many to be Rockefeller’s “single defining business venture.”
The Center opened in May, 1933, bringing to fruition the philosophy that “art was an act of good citizenship.” Rockefeller Center is filled with works of art, making a tour through the many buildings and plazas like a trip to a living art gallery or museum. For instance, take a delightful stroll through the Channel Gardens and the Promenade and see the delicate Christmas Angels created in 1954 by Valerie Clarebout from Aluminum wire, paint and lights; the cast bronze Fountainhead figures, created in 1935 by Rene Paul Chambellan; and of course Prometheus, Paul Manship’s heroic-sized sculpture, made in 1934 of gilded cast bronze. Prometheus is 18 feet high and weighs eight tons, and is probably the most famous of all of the Center’s magnificent sculptures. The theme of this sculpture, which is the theme of the entire Rockefeller Center, is carved into the red granite wall which is behind Prometheus is a quote from the 6th century B.C. Greek playwright Aeschylus: “Prometheus, Teacher in Every Art, Brought the Fire That Hath Proved to Mortals a Means to Mighty Ends.”
Rockefeller Center is located just a few blocks from Shimmie Horn’s Iroquois Hotel between Fifth and Sixth Avenues and 48th to 51st Streets. Consider a visit to one of New York’s grandest locales.