Radio City Music Hall, one of New York City's top tourist destinations, opened for business on December 27, 1932 and was the first building in the Rockefeller Center complex. The building of "People's Palace" set John D. Rockefeller, Jr. back some 8 million dollars during the height of the Great Depression. Life may have been bleak outside, but inside Rockefeller Center's Radio City Music Hall the world glittered with an Art Deco design scheme and the promise of a few hours entertainment.
The Great Stage
Since 1932, the iconic Radio City Music Hall and its "Great Stage," which resembles a large rising sun, spans over 6,000 square feet and moves using a sophisticated hydraulic elevator system concealed beneath the stage. The stage elevator and its 57-foot pistons work so well, and its mechanical engineering so sound, there hasn't been a need to update it since its installation in 1932.
Nearly two million visitors each year frequent the hall's 6,000-seat auditorium, where every seat in the house affords a good vantage point of the stage. Within a year after the grand opening, a massive movie screen was erected, creating Radio City Music Hall's famous movie-theater/grand-stage configuration. Anyone who could afford the ticket admission (1933 ticket prices were 50 cents for a matinee, and 75 cents for an evening show) was able to watch a first-run movie on the world's largest movie screen. Movie-goers got their money's worth, since intermission included a precision dance routine performed by the Rockettes and music from the hall's Mighty Wurlitzer organ.
The Missouri Rockets Become the Rockettes
Beginning their long career as the Missouri Rockets, then the Roxyettes (who first performed at the Roxy Theater across the street), today's Rockettes are a staple of Radio City Music Hall and have been kicking off -- "eye high" -- New York City's Christmas season with a special Christmas extravaganza performance since 1933. The Rockettes perform their dance routines every day of the week, five times a day.
Visiting Radio City Music Hall
Once you arrive in Manhattan, take a bus, cab or water taxi to the music halls's location at 1260 Avenue of the Americas, or ride the subway (B,D, E or F line) to Rockefeller Plaza and 47th - 50th Streets. Should you choose to drive in Manhattan, be aware that parking can be expensive and that it may be difficult to snag a parking spot.
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