Tourism Experience of the Rockefeller Centre

The Rockefeller Center is a fourteen building complex engineered in the Art Deco style on a twenty two acre parcel of land in Midtown Manhattan, New York. The Center is named after John D, Rockefeller Jr. who had obtained the land on leasehold from the University of Columbia. The construction of the buildings took nine years starting from 1930. The land was later acquired by the Rockefeller Group in 1989. Columbia University got a whopping four hundred million dollars from the deal. It has since become private property but is open to public (Rockefeller Centre). The centre holds various historical memories and is a popular tourist destination.

There are various features and works of art that grace the Rockefeller centre. The two hundred flags, for example are a reason for global homage because on a normal day they represent nations that are member to the United Nations. When the United States is on holiday each flagpole carries the flag of America. The flags serve as a uniting factor to the people of the United States and also to the people of the global community. It thus remains a relevant tourist attraction to many societies who visit the centre for various reasons (Urry & Larsen, 2011).

The centre has also been at the forefront in the revolution of architectural art. Having been built in the last phase of incorporation of integrated public art program the Rockefeller centre is home to various artworks that have maintained its relevance as one of the most visited tourist destination globally. There is the Statue of Atlas, for example, on the Fifth Avenue and the Frezies at the main entrance of the RCA Building. At the 50 Rockefeller Plaza is News, a metallic bas-relief sculpture by Isamu Noguchi. Made of stainless steel, it was the largest of its kind on its completion. Other artworks include the bronze statue named Prometheus on 30 Rockefeller Plaza and two great murals that are at the GE Building lobby. American Progress is on the back wall while Time is on the ceiling.

Notably, Rockefeller’s initial idea was to build an opera house but the plan was deterred by the crash of the stock market that happened in 1929. Perhaps then it was the change of idea that determined the construction of a centre that would stand out as more relevant as a tourist attraction and also make meaning to many enthusiasts. This also changed much in design.

Experiential graphic design, which incorporates the use of color, signs and typography through a use of modern technology, has given the center a facelift that leave it in the allure intended by this design; providing environments that communicate. Radio city, for example showcase a theatre constructed in a magical design that makes it one of its own kind. The colorful lighting that also spells out the theatre’s name gives it a spectacular touch and is a good example of the art deco design especially on the interiors. The NBC studios also feature this design perpetuating the idea of communicating environments.

Spatial design, on the other hand, has been brought into use in the construction of the Rockefeller centre. The concept involves thinking beyond the traditional designs in matters architecture, landscaping, public art and interior design. The Rockefeller Plaza buildings, for example brag of a roof garden that opened up to new ideas of landscaping that are characteristic of spatial design. The sunken plaza is another showcase of modes architectural designs. The centre’s interior design has been subject to controversy as the incorporation of public art opened up to original ideas, some of which took time to be incorporated in the making of the complex. Nelson Rockefeller, for example, commissioned Diego Rivera to make a fresco for the RCA Building. But the Mexican artist brought in socialist ideas that attracted controversy in the artwork that followed. He painted the portrait of Lenin together with scenes of Moscow Mayday , a thing that rubbed the Americans the wrong way. A replacement was created by Josep Maria Sept, who produced a more conforming fresco the shows men constructing a new face America. In contrast, the fresco contained portraits of Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi and Ralph Emerson. Last but not the least there is a plaque at the plaza that outlines a list of principles that John D. Rockefeller held dear.

In conclusion, the construction of the Rockefeller Center has taken many twists and turns to become one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world. This has developed from a rich history and the individual determination to change the way of doing things by the ultra modern thinkers. This is evident in the experiential and spatial designs that give the Rockefeller centre its worth.


John Urry, Jonas Larsen, ­The Tourist Gaze (London, Sage Publications, 2011) 97-118

Rockefeller Centre. (accessed October 5, 2015)

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