Part Two-Radio City Music Hall

Revised from 3am.

For Part Two of my six-week series, we will take a stroll to one of New York’s famous landmarks and  give those attending the conference, a sight that can be seen during odd hours and within walking distance of your hotel.

Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall …

rockefeller-center-4-lg

The skating rink during warm months

Today I give you my homage to the magnificent edifice of Rockefeller Plaza and my cherished memories of the Radio City Music Hall.

As a child, I cannot remember a Christmas when we did not go to The City, walk around Rockefeller Plaza to see the tree, and the show at the Music Hall.

The Radio City Music Hall was to my mother the holy grail of events. Not wind, nor storm nor dead of night could keep her from her appointed mission, to herd eight to ten children with her two girlfriends as point and rear guards to the Christmas and Easter shows at the Music Hall.

It was not “are we going this year?” But “on which day are we going?”

We gathered at dawn with blankets, pillows, coffee, hot chocolate, and buttered rolls, and took the long subway ride from Brooklyn to Rockefeller Center. Soon the early hour and the motion of the trains, lulled us to sleep, resting our heads on each other’s shoulders or their laps.

With a round of hands clapping, we woke at our destination, yawned and rubbed our eyes … we were almost there.

Rockefeller-Center-Office-Space

Walking towards Rockefeller Center was always a delight. We were no longer sleepy or hungry and turned slowly in a circle to capture all the sights and sounds around us.

Rockefeller Center is an art deco marvel consisting of nineteen commercial buildings covering eleven acres in midtown Manhattan from Forty-Ninth Street to Fifty-Second Street, from Fifth Avenue to Seventh Avenue, with smaller buildings in a rectangle.

Atlas-at-Rockefeller-Center

Atlas at 30 Rock

On the first floor of these buildings are exclusive shops, their windows lit up and decorated for the holiday season. The tall building in the middle, Thirty Rockefeller Plaza, or as it is called, 30 Rock, looms over a golden sculpture of Prometheus which sits below the giant tree as a symbol of opulence for tourists and native New Yorker’s to enjoy.

Rockefeller_CenterWikipedia File

Inside the open rectangle of buildings is the ice rink, and on the street above, a balcony with a steel railing. We ran around the circle above the ice-skaters, mesmerized by the sights, the music and the smell of the fresh chestnuts, the three mothers “simply could not resist.”

At Christmas the tree-lined pathways of the arcade are decked out in their holiday finest and lead to the giant tree in the middle and along the pathway from Fifth Avenue, the row of Herald Angels.

rockefeller-center-christmas-tree-ny

Hundreds of excited children and their parents mulled in the enormous vestibule of the theater enjoying the spectacle of it all.

The wide circular staircase, art-deco lighting and amazing wall art … vendors selling their wares, the beautiful color program guides the parents purchased for each child, ushers dressed in formal wear and the giant Wurlitzer organ playing holiday tunes.

radio city music

We whispered reverently, our eyes transfixed on the ceiling. My mother grabbed my collar. “Will you get a move on. I want to get orchestra seats.”

The majestic stage is encased in a dome in shades of gold liken to a sunset, a golden curtain across the back. The rows of seats curve upwards from the bottom of the stage … over five thousand soft, wide seats that push back for comfort.

The three women rushed to the middle to give each of the children, even the shortest, a grand view of the show. Carefully the mothers took hats, gloves and coats and began folding and stuffing clothes in their large bags. For an added measure they put pillows and coats under the shortest children and stashed the rest under the seats.

organ

We sat in one long row with the three mothers positioned at the beginning, the middle and the end. It was hard not to admire their organization, their stamina and the den-mother patience with each trip to the bathroom, spitting up, the constant and persistent flow of questions, giggles, interruptions and tantrums of eight children aged six to twelve.

music hall

As the show began to unfold, we became uncharacteristically quiet and still. Not wanting to miss one second as the stage moved up and down in three parts, revealing Christmas scenes like real ice skating, the Nativity with Joseph pulling Mother Mary on a real donkey, and a giant tree, rising from below to the squeals of the audience.

christmas show

In the darkened theater we sat mesmerized by the sounds, the lights and the best of all, the Rockettes as they slowly began their final routine; arms and legs in perfect unity, kicking one, two and three … one, two and three … kicking and circling … kicking and fanning the length of the magnificent stage … adults and children, babies and old women fascinated by the perfection in their dance.

rockettes

There were three more trips to the bathroom with the youngest children as the Wurlitzer was winding up intermission. When we heard the announcer warn the audience to come back to their seats, each child got the second half of their chocolate bar. Then the final delight, a full length movie.

My fondest memory, the year White Christmas premiered at the Music Hall.

whitechristmas

The Music Hall fell on hard times and had been slated for reconstruction. But thanks to Peter Allen, a wonderful Broadway entertainer, and many of his friends and patrons of the arts, the Music Hall has been preserved for generations of adults and children to enjoy.

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Well there you have it … week two … well  it is the “new morning” version. The one I did after twelve hours of frustrating stuff yesterday is in my archives. I do trust that anyone reading me this morning enjoys this shorter post with another great place within walking distance of the Marriott Marquis.

Tell me if you will …

What great local sights have you visited within walking distance

of a writer’s group or conference?

fOIS In The City

Note: Since two comments have been left already regarding the Met, next week, I will re-post my tour of New York’s famous museums.

 

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15 Comments

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15 responses to “Part Two-Radio City Music Hall

  1. vicki

    Hi, Florence: a must-see for me, every time I go to NYC is a visit to the Met. I go by myself and wander where my heart wants. Eat lunch and go back at it until I can’t any more. When traveling, I don’t mind sitting and people watching to absorb where I am. I’ll always remember sitting by the windmills with Handsome in Greece and saying hi to people as they passed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Vicki … I interchange the MOMA and the Met, although I must say MOMA is my fav. It doesn’t matter which one you see, they are all spectacular. And the best way to enjoy our museums in by wandering alone. Even when I went with visitors, we usually split up and agreed to meet on the steps at a certain time.

      People watching is my passion … from a little girl sitting on the long stairs leading to you front door to last night at a free-bee movie with the “tottering” set. I told my friends … I have got to do a piece on them 🙂

      Like

  2. christicorbett

    I love the tours of New York you provide, you’re my favorite virtual guide!

    Liked by 1 person

    • One day, Christi … one day we will meet at the railing of Rockefeller Plaza and go from there … up town or down … I’ll be your real tour guide 🙂

      In the meantime, we’ll stroll along this way 🙂

      Like

  3. Your pictures are enough to make me want to visit. I love them. Your excitement rings through the entire post. What a gorgeous, fantastic place and such wonderful childhood memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Patti. I love putting in the pictures. Most of them are Wikepedia so I don’t have issues, but if I used these posts anywhere else I might have to eliminate the photos and that would be a shame.

      I often think that our childhood memories are the most vivid and the ones we travel back to when we need comfort 🙂

      Like

  4. annerallen

    Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall were part of my childhood Holiday rituals too. Every year right after Christmas, my parents or my best friend’s parents would take us into Manhattan from New Haven, CT on the train. We’d hit FAO Schwartz, B. Altman, and Macy’s. I still have vivid memories of watching the skaters from the restaurant inside Rockefeller Center (I always had the open-faced roast beef sandwich). Then the show. The Rockettes were always magic for me.

    This all stopped by the time I was 10 and we moved to Maine, so I must have been pretty young, but those memories are so vivid. Thanks for the time-travelling!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anne, we went every year until my teens and then I went with my friends. I went until they discontinued the movies. For a while it was only shows and concerts, Now it’s award shows, concerts and some films. Like every Harry Potter was shown there first.

      In my other life I was the director of a children’s program in Washington Heights and once a year at Christmas time, two or three of us would take a group of teens on a tour of Rockefeller Center, the department store windows and of course, FAO Schwartz. I always told my kids you couldn’t buy things there … that it was a toy museum 🙂

      Sadly, it is now gone … B. Altman although its foundation donates money to not-for-profit programs closed its doors. There are so many of our wonderful landmarks that are gone. The incredible Donnelly Library across from the lions on Fifth Avenue is gone … many of the archived exhibits of the Main Library have been farmed out to University libraries like Princeton and Columbia. I should do a post of all that has been lost over the last 30 years, but I think it might break my heart.

      I keep the memories of those Holiday visits very vivid in my mind and every time I write about them, I am right back there … wide-eyed with wonder 🙂

      Like

  5. I’ve only been to New York three times, and have vivid, disconnected memories. One of the first was looking up and seeing a stone windowbox out of which were spilling red geraniums. This was on a bright, clear Halloween day.
    Your post really gives the sense of life deeply lived and experienced. Such a treat.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I quite enjoyed this, Florence. I don’t suppose I’ll ever go to New York myself. However, one never knows.From a child’s point of view I can imagine how utterly grand it all was. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Florence, Where did the week go? Did we have a Wednesday? I’m sure we did as I took Tom to yet another appointment. Oh dear!
    You have a fierce loyalty and love for your city and it rings loud and clear. It’s come through in your stories from the first time I started reading your writing but these last 2 blogs have been especially potent. They are beyond the perfection of 5 star travel guides [not that we’ve been anywhere in a very long time]. It’s a holiday when Tom feels up to going out to dinner!
    This gift you are providing the members attending the conference this year is invaluable. Through your eyes, they have a ring side seat of your city and how to make the best use of their time.

    Liked by 1 person

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