I sat down on the window ledge, the warmth of the sun hitting my face; I was in awe as the Empire State Building stood in front of me. I was looking out onto the World; in a place that I never felt I would want to be, or that I would feel much about.
Over the first few days in New York, the city made a bit of an impression on me, and I slowly grew in love with the place.
I am not sure whether part of this, is because a lot of the US reminds me of a little of New Zealand (some of the New Zealand brogue is similar to Americanisms).
The viewpoint from the Rockefeller Center is easily one of the best views over the city, we were able to get; I much preferred it to the view from the Empire State Building; however, we did go up to the observatory point of the Empire State Building at night,so perhaps this is a poor judgement?
History of the Rockefeller Center
Remember that famous photo of the workmen sitting on a crane over New York City? Those workers were part of the building of the Rockefeller Center, and although it has been speculated that the photo was a publicity stunt for the Rockefeller Center, it has become one of the most reproduced photographs of New York City.
The Rockefeller Center was built between 1930 and 1939 and is part of a complex of 19 other buildings, known as the Rockefeller Plaza, and includes buildings, such as NBC studios where the Tonight Show is produced, and the famous Radio City Music Hall, where a number of esteemed musicians and artists have performed.
The Rockefeller Center is on the corner of West 49th Street, and 5th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. It is walkable from Times Square or Grand Central terminal, if you are in that area. There is a subway stop (47-50th, Rockefeller Center – on the B, D F and M lines)
The cost to get to the “Top of the Rock” is $30, or $45 if you want a Sun and Stars ticket, so you can go up during the day and night (has to be used on the same day). You can buy tickets in advance online, for a specific time period and date, if you want to avoid the queues.
A view from the top of the rock
Initially, you board an elevator, which will take you about 20 floors up – there your tickets will be checked and you will go through security. There will be the typical tourist photo opportunity, posing on a backdrop, similar to the photo of the workmen above. Unless you’re really into these, you can get much better photos of yourself with a real backdrop.
The elevator will then take you to the 70th floor, for a panoramic view of the city, which is totally worth it.
Other things to do at the Rockefeller Center and Rockefeller Plaza Complex
Shopping – there are numerous shops in and around the Rockefeller Plaza, and you’re also close to the classy and high priced 5th Avenue, if you want to splash the cash.
We settled for grabbing a sandwich from Potbelly Sandwich Works inside the plaza for lunch. I first tried this in the flagship store in Chicago – pretty awesome sandwiches.
Ice skate – As I write this, the Ice rink is now closed for the season, but if you are around in New York from mid October, you can skate until mid April. This area is were the Giant Christmas tree is placed each year, and is featured in many movies/TV shows.
Although we could have gone skating, we ran out of time to, and were a bit disappointed by that, as the ice rink in Central Park was also closed.
The Channel Gardens, are open all year around, and are a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the busy streets below.
NBC studio tour
The NBC TV studios are located within the Rockefeller Plaza complex, so if you’re a fan of American TV shows, have a wander over. The studios were actually closed during our visit there, but there is a shop if you want to purchase gifts. The studios are reopening in the middle of this year (2015). Check online for the most recent information.
Getting up to the top of the Rockefeller Center was definitely a highlight of my time in New York City; it was a beautiful clear day, and I enjoyed the non rushed calm period of watching the World.