(From the Radio city Music Hall webpage) When the stock market crashed in 1929, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. held a $91 million, 24-year lease on a piece of midtown Manhattan property properly known as “the speakeasy belt.” In the midst of the country’s worst depression, he made a bold decision that would leave a lasting impact on the city’s architectural and cultural landscape. He decided to build an entire complex of buildings on the property-buildings so superior that they would attract commercial tenants even in a depressed city flooded with vacant rental space. The project would express the highest ideals of architecture and design and stand as a symbol of optimism and hope. Partnering with the Radio Corporation of America as well as impresario S.L. “Roxy” Rothafel, Rockefeller realized a fantastic dream—a theatre unlike any in the world, and the first completed project within the complex that RCA head David Sarnoff dubbed “Radio City.” Radio City Music Hall was to be a palace for the people – a place of beauty offering high-quality entertainment at prices ordinary people could afford. It was intended to entertain and amuse, but also to elevate and inspire.
Donald Deskey, a relatively unknown interior designer at the time, won the competition for design of the Music Hall’s interior spaces. In his design for the Hall, Deskey chose elegance over excess, grandeur above glitz. He designed more than thirty separate spaces, including eight lounges and smoking rooms, each with its own motif. He created a stunning tribute to “human achievement in art, science and industry. He made art an integral part of the design, engaging fine artists to create murals, wall coverings and sculpture; textile designers to develop draperies and carpets; craftsmen to make ceramics, wood panels and chandeliers. He used a brilliant combination of precious materials (including marble and gold foil), and industrial materials (including Bakelite, permatex, aluminum and cork). The strength of his achievement is reflected in how well the theatre has maintained its character over time. It was a remarkable example of contemporary design in its day and it still has the power to take the breath away. It remains an elegant, sophisticated, unified tour de force.
More than 300 million people have come to the Music Hall to enjoy stage shows, movies, concerts and special events. Everything about it is larger than life. Radio City Music Hall is the largest indoor theatre in the world. Its marquee is a full city-block long. Its auditorium measures 160 feet from back to stage and the ceiling reaches a height of 84 feet. The walls and ceiling are formed by a series of sweeping arches that define a splendid and immense curving space. Choral staircases rise up the sides toward the back wall. Actors can enter there to bring live action right into the house. There are no columns to obstruct views. Three shallow mezzanines provide comfortable seating without looming over the rear Orchestra section below. The result is that every seat in Radio City Music Hall is a good seat.
The shimmering gold stage curtain is the largest in the world. For more than sixty-five years audiences have thrilled to the sound of the “Mighty Wurlitzer” organ, which was built especially for the theatre. Its pipes, which range in size from a few inches to 32 feet, are housed in eleven separate rooms. The Hall contains more than 25,000 lights and features four-color stage lighting. And what’s a show without special effects? Original mechanisms still in use today make it possible to send up fountains of water and bring down torrents of rain. Fog and clouds are created by a mechanical system that draws steam directly from a Con Edison generating plant nearby.
Since 1933, more than seven hundred movies have opened at the Music Hall. Before long, a first showing at Radio City Music Hall guaranteed a successful run in theaters around the country. Movies such as King Kong, National Velvet, White Christmas, Mame, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, To Kill a Mockingbird, Mary Poppins and the Lion King opened at the Music Hall. Radio City featured a new movie every week accompanied by a lavish and unique stage production starring the Rockettes.
Since the 1990’s, the Rockettes have only performed at Radio City from November through January in the Christmas Spectacular. The Christmas Spectacular has been a holiday entertainment tradition since the 1930’s. And the Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, which has become synonymous with the Rockettes actually predates that! Though the look has been consistent through the decades, the technology has made the experience even more thrilling for audience members as the dancers wear customer dance shoes which house a sound transmitter so the audience never misses a tap!
Experiencing the Christmas Spectacular has been a holiday tradition for families, students and friends for decades. Ventresca Travel makes it easy for you to kick off your holiday season with the Rockettes – you can choose a one-day motorcoach trip to NYC or a 2-night NYC experience that gives you the chance to see the Christmas Spectacular and all of the splendor that is Manhattan during the holidays! Check out the options below, and contact us as soon as you can to guarantee seats are available for this always-popular event.