Rockefeller Center, New York

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Rockefeller Center, New York

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Review of "Rockefeller Center, New York"

published 09/08/2017 | Pointress
Member since : 19/03/2014
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Pro A great way to see the city
Cons Not the most inexpensive cocktail
Is it worth visiting?
Transport links
Family Friendly

"65 floors up at the Rock"

Atlas outside the Rock

Atlas outside the Rock

John Rockefeller founded the Standard Oil Company in 1870 in Cleveland and became one of the world’s wealthiest men. It was his son, another John, who set about building the Rockefeller Centre in New York.

The Centre itself is huge – spanning 22 acres and comprising 19 separate buildings. It was built during the Great Depression creating much needed employment and took 9 years to complete. When it opened in 1933 America had its first multi-use retail, office and entertainment area. It even had heated buildings and indoor parking – hugely innovative in its day. It is still one of New York’s top tourist attractions.
~~~ Location ~~~
The Rockefeller Centre actually spans several blocks of midtown Manhattan - between 47th & 50th Streets and 5th & 7th Avenues. There's a lot to see and you need a map to navigate yourself around the enormous complex. It includes the NBC Studios where the famous US Today Show, and Saturday Night Live are broadcast. Of course one of the most famous parts of the Centre is Lower Plaza which is turned into an ice rink during the winter and is an outdoor eating space in the summer. At one end stands the gold statute of Prometheus which apparently is the most photographed monumental sculpture in New York City.

What was quite unexpected was the 45-foot blow up ballerina bending down to do up a ballet show at looming over Prometheus, more so because it wasn’t there when we visited our first evening in New York. However, it was very much there when we walked past the next morning on our way to the Museum of Modern Art which is one of the nearby attractions. It turned out that "Seated Ballerina" by Jeff Koons is on display during the summer but it deflated for safety reasons during inclement weather – it was raining on our first visit, dry on the next! The dance in her a light blue tutu is quite a spectacle and according to Koon is supposed to communicate optimism.

Also, worth visiting before venturing inside on of the buildings are the “Channel Gardens”. The gardens are actually 6 pretty pools beautifully planted and green oasis in the bustling urban jungle that is this area of the NYC.
~~~ The Rock ~~~
The main reason for our visit to the Rockefeller Centre was actually at 30 Rockefeller Plaza (known as “The Rock"). One of the main attractions at the Rockefeller Centre is the Top of the Rock Observation Deck. There are plenty of high buildings to visit in the City but I guess if you want to go to the top of a skyscraper then the main choices are the One World Observatory, the Empire State Building or Top of the Rock . We had been advised however, to skip all three and go for cocktails at 65 instead.

First of all we had to find out way into the building. We used the entrance on Fifth Avenue, opposite St Patrick’s Cathedral (which is looking wonderfully clean and spruced up; the previous time I was in New York it was a very different colour) and behind Atlas, another iconic New York sculpture. The Rock is very much an Art Deco style building and it proved quite difficult to find out way around. We had to ask for directions a couple of times but once we were told to follow the red carpet we found the entrance to our destination.

~~~ 65 ~~~
The observation floor at the Rock (for which you pay entrance) is on the 70th floor. However on the 65th floor, you will find the Rainbow Room, an impressive restaurant. Over the years the space has undergone several renovations and was actually closed in 2009. However, another major refurbishment followed and the Rainbow Room reopened in October 2014 but with this time with the addition of 65, a rather special cocktail bar. The year the architects who did the redesign where awarded the 2017 AIA Interior Architecture Award.

At the end of the red carpet we were met by 65 who quizzed my daughter on her age – since we were there to celebrate her 30th, she was chuffed to be asked to show ID to show she was over 21. That done we were ushered into the lift that sped up to the 65th floor.

65 takes up a relatively smaller corner of the western side of the 65th floor. It is impressive though and very smart – we were glad we had made the effort to freshen up and change after a day’s travelling. Proper attire is required, including collared shirts for men.

As soon as you walk in, you can’t help but be impressed by the view. There are tall windows on three sides of the bar with mesmerising views of New York City. On a clear day you can see 30 miles to the north, west and south. The bar takes up the 4th wall where you can order a range of cocktails which inevitably come at quite a price. They start at $19 with wine from $14 a glass. For groups, pitcher of cocktails are on offer and as you might expect there is an impressive range of spirits. Surprisingly (and relatively speaking), the food menu didn’t seem too extortionate with shared platters for two starting at $26.

We selected from the signature cocktail men and both went for the Mama Rose which was a delicious mix of Brooklyn Gin, Combier Rose liqueur, lemon juice, grenadine and orange bitters. Complete with an orchid floating the old style cocktail glass, it looked a pretty picture and we both agreed that it tasted as good as it looked.

There is seating around the edge of the bar but this seemed largely reserved for diners and was already filling up when we arrived. There were tables dotted around the centre of the bar but actually we were more than happy to walk slowly around the large windows and take in the view. We went on our first day in New York and it was a great way to get our bearings, working out East and West etc and orient ourselves. From this height, you get to see Central Park in its entirety – a huge oblong of green in what otherwise is a city of sky scrapers. You also get a fantastic view of the Empire State Building which is directly ahead from one of the windows. All in all it was a great way to start our stay in the Big Apple.
~~~ Recommended ~~~
Absolutely! 65 is open from 5 pm to midnight Monday through to Friday and 4pm to 9 pm on a Sunday. I hadn’t checked the times and we arrived just before 5 on Thursday evening. However, the bar was already quite busy and as we left a queue was forming so unless you particularly want to see the sunset or get a night view, I would suggest going early.

Even though the drinks are eye-wateringly expensive, they are cheaper than the $32 entry to the observatory. You get the view and a delicious drink, what’s not to love??

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Comments on this review

  • rolandrat123 published 15/09/2017
  • euphie published 29/08/2017
    e :o)
  • torr published 27/08/2017
    Well reviewed.
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Product Information : Rockefeller Center, New York

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Listed on Ciao since: 10/11/2001