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In the veritable wilderness that would become midtown Manhattan, Dr. David Hosack opens his Elgin Botanic Garden, the city’s first collection of exotic plant species that’s eventually sold to the state, who then passes the land fatefully over to Columbia University.
Excavation of the Rockefeller Center site, photo by Berenice Abbot taken in 1931. Materials taken from the site were used to fill in Central Park’s South Reservoir (making the Great Lawn) and helped create landfill for Brooklyn’s Shore Parkway.
Prometheus in 1941 (courtesy of Flickr)
In 1943, the Channel garden features an unusual wartime exhibit. Speakers on either end continually broadcast speeches by President Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Chiang Kai-Shek. Fun! (Photo courtesy Library of Congress)
The roof gardens, now closed to the public, were originally a top tourist draw to Rockefeller Center and even enabled Rockefeller to raise rents on any offices that benefits from views that overlooked them.
Two interior shots of the Center Theatre, formerly the RKO Roxy, Rock Center’s other big stage. It changed it named because of a lawsuit with the Roxy Theatre and changed its entertainment from films to ice spectacles in the 1940s. It was torn down in 1958 to make room for what is today the Simon & Schuster Building, also part of the Rockefeller Center complex.
Wild crowds gather for Radio City Music Hall’s Easter show in 1961, and not, I’m assuming, to get into to see the Absent Minded Professor
And in 1954, one of the first years that featured the illuminated angels (courtesy of PLCjr)
CHRISTMAS GIFT ALERT: One of my favorite New York City history books ever is actually about Rockefeller Center — Daniel Okrent’s Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center. The writing is as stout and witty as many of its principal characters. Extremely readable.