Apart from being a tourist attraction, Rockefeller Center is also the first architecturally coordinated development in New York City. The complex includes business buildings, underground walkways, theaters, shops and much more. It is the world’s largest privately-owned business and entertainment center.
There are many tourist and visitor attractions in Rockefeller Center; the most famed building, however, is the GE building at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, west of the plaza. The very first building built for the plaza was the GE tower itself. It looms over the plaza, which includes the grand statue of Prometheus, to this day.
Statues in Rockefeller Center
Paul Manship designed the 18-foot statue that dominates the plaza in 1934. A ring with the signs of the zodiac circle the statue of Prometheus that sits on a gilded mountain peak. Behind the figure, upon the red granite wall, is a fabled quote from Aeschylus. Fifty jets of water circling the statue form a summer backdrop for an electric light show. This area is a center of attention of photographers and artists searching for a neat setup of one of Rockefeller’s well-known attractions.
Lee Lawrie and Rene Paul Chambellan built the large, bronze statue of Atlas that stands in front of Rockefeller Center, across Fifth Avenue from St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1937. The sculpture, although not the most exquisite attraction, involves a great history and therefore intrigues many visitors.
The figure shows the noted Titan Atlas holding the heavens on his shoulders. During the display of the statue in 1937, for points unknown, many people confused it with Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini, hence voicing their protests against it. Since then, the piece was linked with Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel, Atlas Shrugged, and was assigned as a sign of the Objectivist movement.
During the summer, the sunken plaza becomes an outdoor cafe; in wintertime it’s flooded and becomes an ice-skating rink that attracts many families looking for some chilly winter fun. Workers install a large pine tree covered in thousands of bright lights on the sidewalk behind the plaza at Christmastime. Rockefeller Center gets the most visitors during the holidays.
Every year, the Christmas tree is accompanied by equally grand and large, bright angels, which are a work of the late English-born artist, Valerie Clarebout. Designers of the plaza face the angels towards each other and line them up along either side of the aisle of plants leading up to the main attraction, the brightly lit tree. Prior to bringing in the angels in 1954, Clarebout tried snowmen and harps as potentials in place of the Angels.
The Rockefeller’s setup during Christmastime grabs the eyes of pedestrians and photographers who wish to snap the ideal winter wonderland.
The paintings and photos offered at nyArt.com are masterworks of those particular zealous photographers and artists that just could not walk past the stunning scene of Rockefeller Center. They had to have it snapped as memories whether on canvas or print. The paintings show plants circling the tree and angels; the photos show the light bouncing off the Prometheus figure. The artworks feature different seasons but all highlight the main attraction of the season.