The 1931 tree, via Rockefeller Center
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 85th Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting, an annual celebration that attracts tens of thousands in person and hundreds of millions more on television, 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 550-pound Swarovski star, there’s no shortage of interesting tidbits about one of NYC’s biggest attractions.
More on the history here
New York City’s avenue blocks are long, as are its winters; getting from Rockefeller Center to Times Square can be an unpleasant, cold and crowded experience–unless you take the underground passageway, the city’s largest, that spans the entire two-block-plus distance. Below, take a virtual stroll from avenue to avenue (and from the B/D/F/M to the N/R/W subways): Enter on the west side of Fifth Avenue between 50th and 51st Street and exit at Seventh Avenue and 49th Street–and buy yourself a few more minutes before you burrow into that parka.
Take a virtual trip through the tunnel
In 1932, Mexican artist Diego Rivera was commissioned by Nelson Rockefeller to add a mural to the soaring lobby of Rockefeller Center. Despite being known for his petulant temper and loyalty to Communism, Rivera was still one of the most highly sought after artists of his time, lauded for his creative genius and his detailed paintings. But politics, artistic vision, power and wealth collided in 1934 when a displeased Rockefeller had the very mural he commissioned from Rivera chiseled off the wall the night before it was to be completed.
read about the mysterious mural here
Grab your skates kids, because the iconic ice rink at The Rockefeller Center is reopen for business today! This year The Rink at Rockefeller Center is celebrating its 80th year of operation (it opened on Christmas Day in 1936), and to mark the occasion the center held a grand opening ribbon-cutting ceremony this morning with figure skater and Olympic silver medalist Sasha Cohen. While this mid-60s sweater weather may not feel quite as festive as that Christmastime nip, hitting the ice now does have a number of advantages—namely not having to bundle up, and not having to fight the lines. More than a quarter-million skaters are anticipated to visit the rink this year.
more info here
In a city where hundreds of interesting happenings occur each week, it can be hard to pick and choose your way to a fulfilling life. Art Nerd‘s philosophy is a combination of observation, participation, education and of course a party to create the ultimate well-rounded week. Jump ahead for Art Nerd founder Lori Zimmer’s top picks for 6sqft readers!
This week, check out the giant swimming pool that is smack in the middle of Rockefeller Center, or frolic with the two-story bunnies in Battery Park City. Photographer Joe Russo shares pieces from his years of shooting celebs and artists, and the annual AIPAD photographer show takes over the gorgeous Park Avenue Armory. Music novelist Ben Vendetta talks about 90s Brit Pop at Otto’s Shrunken Head, and old school graffiti artist BIO shares new work in the Bronx. And finally, save your pennies to party in style with Swizz Beatz at the Brooklyn Museum.
more on all the best events this way
View of Elgin Botanic Garden in 1801
Today, New Yorkers get to enjoy lush landscapes and beautiful plantings at the 250-acre New York Botanical Garden and the 52-acre Brooklyn Botanic Garden, but these outdoor oases weren’t founded until 1891 and 1910, respectively. About 100 years prior, a public botanic garden sprouted up on 20 acres of land at what is today Rockefeller Center, and it was the first such garden in the nation.
Elgin Botanic Garden was founded in 1801 by Dr. David Hosack, a physician, botanist, and educator, perhaps best known for serving as the doctor to Alexander Hamilton after his duel with Aaron Burr in 1804. He used his own money to purchase and landscape the grounds, and by 1805 it was home to more than 1,500 plant species, which he studied for medicinal purposes.
The full history of Hosack and the Elgin Botanic Garden
Image: Sakura Matsuri at the BK Botanical Garden by Liz Ligon
In a city where hundreds of interesting happenings occur each week, it can be hard to pick and choose your way to a fulfilling life. Art Nerd‘s philosophy is a combination of observation, participation, education and of course a party to create the ultimate well-rounded week. Jump ahead for ArtNerd founder Lori Zimmer’s top picks for 6sqft readers, beginning tonight!
Spring means another week of great events, kicking off with one of my own at the fabulous historic Roger Smith Hotel. This week, spend 12 hours celebrating philosophy, shop the best in home design for a cause, enjoy the authentic Lower East Side, or let art save your soul at the Rubin Museum. You can also celebrate spring Japanese style at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, take a selfie at Rockefeller Center, or school yourself at the Guggenheim.
All the best events here
It was the winter of 1968 when Jefferson Airplane took to the rooftop of the Schuyler Hotel in Manhattan. The band had just released their fourth album and had also just made the cover of LIFE magazine. High on life—and likely some other stuff—they blasted from their PA atop the nine-story hotel Midtown hotel: “Hello New York! New York, wake up you fuckers! Free music! Nice songs! Free love!”
The band got a solid crowd going and at least one song in, but it didn’t take very long for the NYPD to show up—the concert was causing traffic jams on the surrounding streets as New Yorkers crowded around the hotel to get a better look. Although the concert was quickly broken up, it was also captured on video by none other than Jean Luc Godard and D.A. Pennebaker. (Fun side fact: Many claim that the Beatles ripped off the band’s performance with their show atop a London building about two months later.)
Watch the video here
The ice skating in Central Park in 1900, via MCNY
One of the most festive holiday activities doesn’t end at New Year’s, but rather lasts through the winter. Ice skating in NYC is a hot activity, with lines easily wrapping around the block at the Bryant Park Winter Village and Rockefeller Center’s ice rink. But this isn’t a new trend. Ice skating has long been a popular social pastime for New Yorkers, whether on a frozen pond in Central Park or at the Biltmore Ice Garden at the Biltmore Hotel. Plenty of historic photographs exist, documenting the transformation of the New York ice skater; so we’ve put together a timeline of this winter activity.
All the photos ahead
We welcome this second week of summer with open arms as the warm weather we’ve been oh so patiently waiting for brings with it plenty of amazing art and design events happening outdoors (and in). This week, Jeff Koons descends upon New York, first hitting up Rockefeller Center with his giant living floral sculpture, Split Rocker, then rounding out this verdant new work with a full on retrospective at the Whitney’s Upper East Side Breuer Building.
But if you just want to relax and recline (literally), Air France will be kicking off the weekend by bringing a little bit of Paris to New York. Three days of French flavor are planned for anyone who wants to partake, and guests will get to indulge in delicious food and drink and even take French lessons while lounging in one of Air France’s first class chairs. C’est bon!
All the best events here