Originally, Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan was destined to be the new performance space for the Metropolitan Opera. However, delays from the Metropolitan Opera and the 1929 stock market crash spurred John D. Rockefeller, Jr. to take matters into his own hands. Which is something he was pretty good at.
“It was clear that there were only two courses open to me. One was to abandon the entire development. The other to go forward with it in the definite knowledge that I myself would have to build it and finance it alone.”
Rockefeller chose the second option and thus took on the largest private building project ever, at an estimate of $250 million dollars – and that’s in 1930’s money. The construction created over 70,000 jobs and Rockefeller was an integral employer during the depression. In fact, the famous photo “Lunch Atop a Skyscraper” of construction workers eating on a steel girder high above the city is from that jobsite.
The entire Rockefeller Center originally consisted of 14 buildings and currently houses some of New York City’s most notable tenants including the Today Show, Saturday Night Live, Prometheus overlooking the ice skating rink and of course, the world famous Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. Rockefeller Center was named a national landmark on September 26, 1987.