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Lee Lawrie "The Purpose of the International Building" or "The Story of Man" at the Rockefeller Center New York

The Rockefeller Center was once a botanic garden, owned by Columbia University and was leased in 1928 by John D. Rockefeller Junior as an ideal central home for a new opera house. He had a 24 year lease, but the project was dropped when the stock market crashed in 1929. Instead he decided to build a commercial center and in all 228 buildings were demolished to make way for 12 new buildings to be designed by Associated Architects, a group directed by Raymond Hood. This "city within a city" as Rockefeller called it, was built between 1932 and 1940..The buildings erected during this time provided jobs for 225,000 during the Great Depression. One of the first completed was the RCA building which served as the headquarters of the Radio Corporation of America. To lure tennants, all efforts were made to ensure efficient use of available floor space-assets included fast elevators, air conditioning and underground connections to the subways. By 1940 the Radio City, which became known as the Rockefeller Center, consisted of 14 buildings located around a central sunken plaza, the Lower Plaza.This was turned into New York City's first artificial outdoor skating rink on Christmas Day 1936. The rink season is mid October to mid April and is 59 feet by 122 feet and can hold up to 150 skaters at one time.It was a novelty at the time as refrigeration was a new technology.The plaza is connected to Fifth Avenue by a pedestrian street decorated with statues and flowers and is known as the Channel Gardens- so named because they separate the British Empire Building and the Maison Francaise. The gilded Prometheus stealing the sacred fire from the Greek gods to give to man, rises ahead. During the Christmas holidays, there is a large tree there, decked with 20,000 tiny lights. The Radio City Music Hall is in the Center too-with 6,000 seats it was the worlds largest theatre when it opened in 1932.


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