Rockefeller Center, one of New York City's most visited sites, is a National Historic Landmark whose fame extends worldwide thanks to countless appearances in television series, movies, and variety shows like The Today Show, Saturday Night Live, and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. From the enormous Rockefeller Christmas Tree, the ice skating rink, and the giant gilded Prometheus Fountain to the high-kicking Rockettes and eclectic musical performances at Radio City Music Hall, everyone knows something about Rockefeller Center.
There is a lot to do here. The area offers an abundance of retail spaces, including numerous restaurants and shops that attract tourists and locals alike. There are too many shops to mention in Rockefeller Center, but recent additions like the Other Half Brewing Taproom and Rough Trade have made the complex feel young and hip.
Spanning 22 acres in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, Rockefeller Center is recognizable for its cohesive limestone façades. The complex is located between 48th and 51st Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues, encompassing 19 distinct buildings, making it hard to miss even for first-time visitors.
FROM VISION TO REALITY
John D. Rockefeller Jr., the financier, philanthropist, and heir to the Standard Oil fortune, envisioned the giant complex as a city within a city—precisely what it feels like today. Designed by architect Raymond Hood, construction began in the 1930s and was mostly complete by the end of the decade.
Originally intended to accommodate a new opera house for the Metropolitan Opera, the Rockefeller project evolved into a larger complex after the opera's withdrawal. Rockefeller financed the massive real estate development and transformed the area into the largest private building project of its time. The construction provided much-needed employment to thousands of workers who were struggling during the Great Depression.
Over the years, Rockefeller Center expanded, adding more buildings and features, like the Top of the Rock observation deck and the Rainbow Room. In fact, even during COVID-19 pandemic, a half-acre rooftop garden, part of the original Rockefeller design, was added atop Radio City Music Hall.
Today, Rockefeller Center remains the centerpiece of Midtown Manhattan and an architectural destination showcasing the grandeur of Art Deco design. Intricate bas-reliefs, lavish murals, and geometric forms enhance each building within the complex and cohesively tie them all together. These design elements surround you at every turn; you really have to see it to grasp the magnitude. It's truly spectacular.
30 Rockefeller Plaza is the most well-known building and is the hub of Rockefeller Center. Known as the RCA Building for many years, it's now called the Comcast Building. At 70 stories, the building towers high above the other buildings in the complex. Most of 30 Rockefeller is Class-A office space, with many shops and restaurants occupying the first and lower levels.
30 Rock is home to numerous companies, most notably NBC Universal, which is the reason why so many NBC television shows are filmed in the complex. It's not uncommon to see a celebrity walking around before an appearance on The Tonight Show or a rehearsal for SNL. The other anchor office tenants include Deloitte and Lazard Asset Management. The building caters to companies with large office footprints, as each floor has roughly 35,000 square feet, and most companies occupy many floors. Therefore, it's unlikely that a company looking for office space in Rockefeller Center within, say, a 3000-5000 square foot range would find office space availabilities at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. But there are alternatives; many of the other Rockefeller office buildings have smaller offices for lease.
Office buildings in Rockefeller Center:
- 1 Rockefeller Plaza
- 10 Rockefeller Plaza
- 30 Rockefeller Plaza
- 45 Rockefeller Plaza
- 50 Rockefeller Plaza
- 1270 Avenue of the Americas
- 1230 Avenue of the Americas
- 610 Fifth Avenue
- 620 Fifth Avenue
- 600 Fifth Avenue
THE INTERNATIONAL COMPLEX
610 Fifth Avenue and 620 Fifth Avenue are known as the La Maison Francaise and the British Empire Building, respectively. Each comprises roughly 250,000 square feet, with retail tenants on the ground floor and 5 floors of office space. Perhaps it's apropos that the two buildings are separated by the Channel Gardens, a landscaped pedestrian walkway that creates a division between them. The Channel Gardens is a tourist hotspot, partially because the two buildings and gardens create a photogenic frame that makes for a dramatic picture of Rockefeller Center. An adjacent building called 45 Rock or 630 Fifth Avenue or The International Building—they have lots of names—is a much larger office building with 41 floors and over 1 million square feet of office space. All 3 buildings are known as the International Complex within Rockefeller Center. Britain and France are no longer associated with the buildings, but the names stuck.