Rockefeller Center in New York: The Complete Guide

View looking up at the Rockefeller Center

TripSavvy / Kelsea Watkins

The popular sitcom "30 Rock" gave audiences in the U.S. a satirical sneak peek as to what goes on inside just one of the massive structures in the 22 acres (89,000 square meters) that make up Rockefeller Center. The address 30 Rockefeller Center is where the NBC studios are housed and where the comedy show "Saturday Night Live" is filmed. Besides the studios, the Rockefeller Center complex is a news media, publishing, and entertainment icon declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987. It features Radio City Music Hall, the original Time-Life Building, "Today Show" studios, the Simon & Schuster Building, and the initial RKO Pictures (renamed the GE Building) and McGraw-Hill buildings.

Steeped in Rich History

The Rockefeller Center complex was built during the Great Depression, providing much-needed work for New Yorkers. It was commissioned by the Rockefeller family on land formerly owned by Columbia University. Construction started in 1931, and the first buildings opened in 1933. The central part of the complex was completed by 1939, with architecture reflecting the Art Deco style popular at the time. Rockefeller Center was revolutionary in incorporating artwork throughout both public and private spaces, adding parking garages, and having centralized heating systems.

The center is one of New York City's most visited sites, especially during the winter when it becomes a holiday wonderland with its legendary tree and ice skating rink.

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Location and Nearest Subways

Rockefeller Center subway
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Rockefeller Center is a massive complex spanning the area between 48th and 51st Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenue. To get there by subway, you can take the B, D, F, M to the 47th-50th Street Rockefeller Center stop. You can also take the 1 train to the 50th Street stop, the 6 train to the 51st Street stop, or the N, Q, R to the 49th Street stop.

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Guided Tour & Dinner

The Rainbow Room

 Rainbow Room

Take a tour of all the marvelous sights to behold at Rockefeller Center. Also, you can plan a posh dinner and sip on handcrafted cocktails at the Rainbow Room restaurant on the 65th floor of 30 Rock overlooking the promenade for a memorable snapshot. 

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Art and the Top of the Rock Observation Deck

Lower Manhattan from Top of the Rock

 Tomas Zrna / Getty Images

Rockefeller Center is home to a number of well-known works of art including murals inside the buildings and the famous bronze Atlas sculpture located across from St. Patrick's Cathedral. 

Also, consider a stop at the Top of the Rock observation deck for sweeping views of midtown Manhattan. 

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The Holiday Season

People ice skating at Rockefeller Center

TripSavvy / Kelsea Watkins

The Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center is one of New York City's most famous holiday attractions with a tree-lighting ceremony each year in early December. Also considered one of the most quintessential New York City experiences is going skating at the Rockefeller ice rink

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Rockefeller Center Tours

Radio City Music Hall,New York City
Ozgur Donmaz / Getty Images

You can learn intimate details about Rockefeller Center by taking a curated tour. There are several guided tours that give you a behind-the-scenes look at Rockefeller Center, including a Rockefeller Center tour, NBC Studios Tour, and the Radio City Music Hall's "Stage Door Tour."

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TV Shows Broadcast From Rockefeller Center

Natalie Portman Visits 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon'
Getty Images for NBC / Getty Images

A free thing to do in Rockefeller Center is to be part of the studio audience at one of the shows that tape in Rockefeller Center, like "Saturday Night Live" or "The Tonight Show."

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Nearby Attractions

Atlas, St Patrick's Cathedral, New York City
Getty Images/Domingo Leiva

Rockefeller Center is conveniently located in midtown near many free attractions, including St. Patrick's Cathedral, the New York Public Library, and Central Park. Keep a ​map of the neighborhood on hand to plot your visit to midtown Manhattan.