Art & History
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Sparking the imagination

John D. Rockefeller Jr's vision was for Rockefeller Center to be a place where New Yorkers could come and surround themselves with art and motifs that celebrated the best of the human spirit. Today, his vision has been spectacularly realized, giving you the opportunity to come visit and discover and be inspired by it all, from outdoor art installations to historic public art.

"News" at 50 Rock Plaza
Noguchi works on "News"-1938
Paul Manship's "Prometheus"
Paul Manship's "Prometheus"


Over 100 years ago, John D. Rockefeller Jr. had a vision to create a “city within a city,” and the story of how Rockefeller Center came to be is a fascinating one.

Oct. 1, 1928

John D. Rockefeller leases land from Columbia University for the future site of Rockefeller Center. The land covered nearly all of the area in the three square blocks bordered by Fifth Avenue, the Avenue of the Americas (Sixth Avenue), and 48th and 51st Streets.

Dec. 1931

The first Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. During the Great Depression, workers at Rockefeller Center pooled their money to purchase the original Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, a 20-foot balsam fir, adorned it with home-made garlands, and stood it at the Rockefeller Center construction site as a symbol of hope and optimism. Two years later, in 1933, Rockefeller Center made the tree an annual tradition.

Mar. 1932

Construction begins at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Construction on Radio City Music Hall was also underway.

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