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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Radio City

This is Radio City Music Hall, one of NYC's best known attractions, top tourist destinations and part of the Rockefeller Center complex. It has a roster of film debuts and a history of stage shows with luminaries like Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Linda Ronstadt, Bill Cosby, Liberace, Sammy Davis, Jr., Count Basie, Itzhak Perlman, Ray Charles and BB King etal. The music hall was created by John D.Rockefeller, Jr., impresario Samuel "Roxy" Rothafel, and RCA chairman David Sarnoff (the name "Radio City" is from RCA - Radio Corporation of America). Radio City opened in December, 1932. The structure was designed by architect Edward Durell Stone with the spectacular interior by Donald Deskey, winner of the design competition at that time. Deskey was a pioneer in industrial and packaging design with an impressive list of credits - Joy detergent bottle (1950), Cheer detergent box (1951), window displays at Saks Fifth Avenue and exhibits at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. The interior, designated as a Historic landmark in 1979, is an Art Deco masterpiece with one of the largest stages in the world. Ceilings reach 84 feet. The Great Stage, framed by a huge proscenium arch that measures 60 feet high and 100 feet wide, is an engineering marvel with a system of hydraulic elevators. The Mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ houses its pipes in 11 different rooms. With "The Progress of Man" as Deskey's general theme, 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. All manner of precious materials (including marble and gold foil) and industrial materials were used. In 1999 the facility underwent a massive $70 million dollar restoration. The music hall is home to the renowned Rockettes, a precision dance team, virtually synonymous with the theater itself, along with the annual Radio City Christmas Spectacular, a tradition in NYC since 1933. It's impossible to give a real sense of this magnificent space in writing - I suggest you visit at least once in your life...

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