Sunday, May 23, 2010
"30 Rock", the Rockefeller Center, NYC
30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112
Built in 1933, Photographed in 2010
Popularly known as “30 Rock”, the GE Building is a slim gothic skyscraper and the centerpiece of the
Rockefeller Center complex. At 850ft (259m) with 70 floors, it is the tallest, grandest and most dazzling
of the Rockefeller Center buildings. The landmark emanates a futuristic, larger-than-life grace, despite its
bulky limestone base, which garnered another nickname: “The Slab.” The 70-story Art Deco building
was originally constructed for the Radio Corporation of America in 1933 (formally known as RCA
building), and was exceptionally modern for its time, with a contemporary open lobby and even
escalators connecting the ground floor to lower level shops.
The top floor of the building is an event room and restaurant named the Rainbow Room, above that is
the Top of the Rock observation deck. The building is the setting for the famous "Lunchtime atop a
Skyscraper" photograph, taken by Charles C. Ebbets in 1932 of workers having lunch, sitting on a steel
beam, without safety harnesses. The 840-foot (260 m) drop lies below.
One of the little known but fascinating parts of Rockefeller Center is the underground concourse, known
as a 'city in the city'. It is an exceptional example of civic planning. All buildings share a common design
style, Art Deco, and are connected to each other via an underground concourse, the Catacombs. This
interconnected series of pedestrian passages stretches from 47th Street to 51st Street, and from 5th
Avenue to 7th Avenue. The concourse, New York's largest underground city, contains retail shops, fast
food, fine dining, post office, and subway entrances.
One of the first escalators provided access to this concourse from the lobby. The open lobby was the first of its time and rich materials, reduced black and beige ornamental scheme is enhanced by dramatic
lighting. Granite covers the building base to a height of 4ft (1.2m), and the shaft has a refined facade of
Indiana limestone with aluminum spandrel panels.
In 1985 the GE Building was given official landmark status.
To view more photographs, visit my flickr slideshow, or thumbnails.