There’s no place like New York during the holidays. Even in the middle of a pandemic, the city manages to still feel magical this time of year. And Rockefeller Center, with its iconic Christmas Tree, ice skating rink, and Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, remains the city’s crown jewel of the season. For those who want to feel festive all year round, we’ve found the best apartments located within walking distance to Rockefeller Plaza and priced below $1.5 million, from a $530,000 charming pre-war pad in Midtown East to a $1.27 million Theater District one-bedroom with 12-foot ceilings and a shared outdoor terrace with a fireplace.
The 1931 tree, courtesy of Tishman Speyer
The official website of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree describes the holiday tree as a “world-wide symbol of Christmas,” a statement we really can’t argue with, especially since 125 million people visit the attraction each year. And with tonight marking the 88th Tree Lighting, we decided to take a look back at the tradition’s history. From its start as a modest Depression-era pick-me-up for Rockefeller Center construction workers to World War regulations to its current 900-pound Swarovski star, there’s no shortage of interesting tidbits about one of NYC’s biggest attractions.
Starting this Thursday, December 3, if you want a chance to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree for five minutes (yep, there’s a time limit), you’ll need to reserve advance tickets. In his press conference today, Mayor de Blasio outlined the new system, which includes closing 49th and 50th Streets between 6th and 7th Avenues to vehicular traffic and setting up four-person “pods” where guests will be directed to see the tree. “This is going to be a challenging holiday season in a lot of ways, but it’s still going to be a beautiful one,” said the mayor.
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree has taken its rightful place in Midtown. This year, a 75-foot tall, 11-ton Norway Spruce from Oneonta, N.Y. will serve as the centerpiece for the famous event. Donated by Daddy Al’s General Store, the approximately 80-year-old tree last week was cut down, hoisted by a crane, and delivered by flatbed truck to Manhattan on Saturday. The public cannot attend the tree lighting ceremony this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the live event will be broadcast nationally on December 2.
As was first reported by the New York Times, the famous ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center will be be open for the holidays this year, but it will be a much abbreviated season. The rink will open a month later to give more time to restaurants currently using the plaza for outdoor dining, and it will close several months early on January 17 to begin work on a major revamp that was approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission in April.
Illusory Progression, True to Myth, and Rhizogenic Rhythms by artist Thaddeus Mosley; Photo courtesy of Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Tishman Speyer
Another free public art installation has opened at Rockefeller Center. In its second year, the Frieze Sculpture at Rockefeller Center opened on Tuesday as an outdoor sculpture garden with works from six major international artists. Originally scheduled to open this past spring as part of art programs offered by Frieze New York, the installation was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Courtesy of Tishman Speyer
The iconic flags that surround the Rink at Rockefeller Center got a makeover over the weekend. Public art initiative “The Flag Project” opened on Saturday with 193 new flags designed by the public, as well as a number of well-known artists and designers. Led by Tishman Speyer, the installation aims to celebrate New York City as the city continues its fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Since Mayor Bill de Blasio rolled out the open restaurants program last month, allowing eateries to serve diners on sidewalks and in adjacent parking spots, over 9,000 eateries have reopened for outdoor dining. Offering another lifeline to the struggling industry, especially now that indoor dining has been postponed indefinitely, the city has also closed more than 40 blocks to traffic for its weekend-only open streets dining program, overseen by community organizations and neighborhood Business Improvement Districts. With so many al fresco dining options available, we’re rounding up the most iconic New York City streets and establishments now open for outdoor dining, from the most photographed block in Brooklyn and New York’s oldest bar in Queens to open-air plazas with views of city landmarks.
A public art competition launched last week that asks New Yorkers to submit designs for the iconic flags that surround the Rink at Rockefeller Center. Led by the site’s developer Tishman Speyer, “The Flag Project” is looking for artwork that celebrates New York City, whether it be through graphic design, a drawing, or collage. Winning designs will be made into flags and flown from Rockefeller Center’s 192 flagpoles this August as part of a temporary exhibit.
Rendering by Gabellini Sheppard Associates courtesy of Tishman Speyer; via Landmarks Preservation Commission
A proposal to renovate Rockefeller Center’s public realm was approved on Tuesday by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Led by Tishman Speyer and designed by Gabellini Sheppard Associates, the project aims to restore the connection between the concourse and the sunken plaza, an element included in the original plans for the historic Midtown site. The design, which was revised following a public hearing in January, focuses on the pools of the channel gardens, the sunken plaza, and new seating and planting to maintain the plaza’s well-defined edges.