Day 207/365 of Steel – Rockefeller Centre

‘Rockefeller, Rockefeller, you’re my rockefella’

The iconic photograph ‘Lunch atop a Skyscraper’, depicting workers resting for a meal during the construction of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, has been hanging in my office for many years.

Rockefeller Center is a large complex consisting of 19 commercial buildings covering 89,000 m² between 48th Street and 51st Street in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. The 14 original Art Deco buildings, commissioned by the Rockefeller family, span the area between Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue, split by a large sunken square and a private street called Rockefeller Plaza.

Rockefeller Center, December 1933
Fig 3: Rockefeller Center, December 1933
Photo: Samuel Herman Gottscho

For the project, 228 buildings on the site were razed and some 4,000 tenants relocated. The RKO Building was the first structure to be completed, in September 1932, followed by the Music Hall in December 1932 and the British Empire Building in April 1933.

1230 Avenue of the Americas, Manhattan, New York City
Fig 4: 1230 Avenue of the Americas, Manhattan, New York City

The complex’s famed Christmas tree in the center of the plaza was erected for the first time in December 1933. John Rockefeller installed a ceremonial final rivet on November 1, 1939, marking the completion of the original complex.

The construction of the project employed between 40,000 and 60,000 people. The complex was the largest private building project ever undertaken in contemporary times.

About the Author:

Bruno Dursin – Managing Director at Believe in Steel. Bruno has more than 30 years of experience in promoting steel & steel solutions. His clients benefit from his extensive network within the building industry.

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