“Next stop Grand Central Terminal” announced the Metro North train’s driver. We were on our way into Manhattan to meet our friends Katie and Greg to see the sights in the worlds most famously decked out holiday city. We weren’t alone. Each winter, New York City draws millions of tourists who admire the exquisite Christmas window displays adorning the stores along Fifth Avenue and flock to watch the skaters glide on the Rockefeller Skating Rink as the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree glows beneath the city skyline.
Rockefeller Center is the epicenter of Christmas magic in Manhattan. The skating rink at 30 Rock, the Christmas tree, the Sax Fifth Ave building light show, Radio City Music Hall and many highly decorated fifth avenue stores are all either within or very close to Rockefeller Center.
The Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center has been a tradition since the opening of 30 Rock (NBC studios) in 1933. The tree is usually a Norway Spruce that is between 70-100 ft. tall and sourced somewhere in the Northeast. The decorated Christmas tree remains lit at Rockefeller Center through January 6, which is the Christian feast of The Epiphany. Then it is removed from the premises and recycled for a variety of uses.
Radio City Music Hall is one of the fourteen Rockefeller Center buildings. The Radio City Christmas Spectacular is an annual musical holiday stage show presented at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The show features over 140 performers, lavish sets and costumes and an original musical score. The 90 minute revue combines singing, dancing and humor with traditional scenes in spectacular stage settings. The star performers are the women’s precision dance troupe known as the Rockettes. Since the first version was presented in 1933, the show has become a New York Christmas tradition seen by more than a million visitors a year.
At the base of 30 Rock, the skating rink is the center of holiday activity. The statue of Prometheus oversees the skaters after they have sometimes waited hours to get a turn on the rink. In December and especially on weekends, this area welcomes hundreds of thousands of tourists and at times it can be literally difficult to move from one place to another.
Gliding gracefully across the ice while surrounded by the splendid Manhattan skyline, the Wollman rink is New York magic at its best. The Wollman rink is one of two skating rinks in Central Park.
Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?
In the lane, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight,
We’re happy tonight.
Walking in a winter wonderland.
(Winter Wonderland – 1934 Bernard/Smith)
I captured this scene a few days after a massive snowstorm in New York City. The storm dumped almost three feet of snow on Central Park and changed the park into a winter wonderland.
These have been on display since 1993. The steel-reinforced fiberglass balls with chrome-finished caps and hooks require a complete draining of the fountain in front of 1251 Avenue of the Americas for their installation — usually just before Thanksgiving weekend.
They were designed by Stephen Stefan of the Dallas-based company Venue Arts, who says he was inspired by the work of sculptor Claes Oldenburg. Oldenburg was known for his rendering of everyday objects on a large-scale in public places.
Of course Macy’s in Herald Square on 34th St. is the location of the famous 1947 movie Miracle on 34th St. in which establishment figures question the existence of Santa Claus. The Macys Christmas windows are a must see in New York and the sidewalk lines on weekends are usually quite long.
My best wishes to you all for a joyful holiday season, a healthy new year and more peace in the world.