Explore an Art Deco masterpiece.
The historian-guided Rockefeller Center Tour takes you from past to present, from John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s initial vision to its realization in the cultural center and National Historic Landmark of today. You’ll get an insider’s view of the incredible architecture, art, iconic buildings, outdoor gardens, and spaces found throughout Rockefeller Center.
On the Tour
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. Filled with art, style, and entertainment, it’s a story that is being added to every day.
John D. Rockefeller Jr leases land from Columbia University. Rockefeller’s original vision was was to create a commercial office building community and a new home for the Metropolitan Opera Company. The stock market crash of 1929 thwarted these plans however, as investors withdrew from the project. A determined Rockefeller chose to move forward with the project, opting to create an exclusively commercial business complex.
Construction begins on America's largest privately owned business and entertainment complex of the pre-war period. Throughout the Depression, the construction of the center provided jobs for tens of thousands of laborers and helped boost the building industry in New York City. The fourteen original buildings and their accompanying attractions were completed in 1940.
Center Theatre opens. Originally called the RKO Roxy Theatre when it opened, the Center Theatre featured both live stage shows and screened films. During the height of its popularity in the 1940s, its understated Art Deco–inspired design stood in stark contrast to the lavish Radio City Music Hall nearby. It is the only building from the original Rockefeller Center plan that has been torn down.
Associated Press Building Completed. Soaring above the entrance to the Associated Press Building is News, the first heroic-sized sculpture ever cast in stainless steel. One of the major Art Deco works in the Center, it depicts five journalists focused on getting a scoop. AP’s worldwide network is symbolized by diagonal radiating lines extending across the plaque. Intense angles and smooth planes create the fast-paced rhythm and energy of a newsroom.
Points of Interest
Rockefeller Center Tour FAQs
What will I see on the tour? What is covered? Will I see buildings, murals, statues, etc. on the tour?
A guide will lead your group through the buildings, streets, and landmarks of Rockefeller Center, focusing on the art and architecture found here. Featuring prominently in the tour are stops at original installations by world-renowned artists, such as:
• Famous sculptures by Isamu Noguchi, Michio Ihara, and Paul Manship, including the iconic Prometheus statue
• Impressive murals by Jose Maria Sert and Sir Frank Brangwyn
• Historic works by Lee Lawrie, Gaston Lachaise, Attilio Piccirilli, and Leo Lentelli
Your group will also be taken through the Channel Gardens and the world-famous skating rink (open seasonally). Several buildings acknowledged as art deco masterpieces will also be visited, including the iconic 30 Rockefeller Plaza.
Is the tour only conducted in English?
Tour guides only speak English on the tour. However, if you have a group, it may be possible to arrange for a translator. Please contact our Group Sales department at 212-698-2000 for information.
Does this tour include NBC Studios or Radio City Music Hall?
Both NBC Studios and Radio City Music Hall offer their own tours. These venues are not a part of the Rockefeller Center tour.
When are the tours scheduled?
Tours take place daily at 1:30pm, 2:30pm, 3:30pm, 4:30pm, 5:30pm and 6:30pm
Can this tour be combined with other Rockefeller Center attractions?
Yes. The Rock Pass combines this tour with a visit to Top of the Rock observation deck atop 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Most guests take the tour first and visit Top of the Rock second.
Is it possible to sit during the tour?
Unfortunately, no. This is a walking tour that covers many points of interest, consequently the schedule does not allow for rest periods.