Saturday, October 1, 2011

(10) PA: 5th Avenue and the Rockefellers: what a combination!

It's been a while since my last post. For those of you who don't know, I've been spending much of my time on my first attempt at writing a book. As much as I've been enjoying it, it is also hard work, and I've also missed writing my blog. So today I'm taking some time out to have fun. Anyone reading my blog for the first time - I've recently had the most amazing visit to the Big Apple and I've been doing some 'show 'n tell'. Please feel free to read up on previous blog posts at your leisure. As for the rest of you, I hope you've enjoyed your breather, because we've not even gotten to Lady Liberty yet. Let it give you something to look forward to, yes?
Stop! You are about to enter (one of the) hoity-toity shopping strips of New York City - 5th Avenue. At this juncture you might want to reconsider who is in possession of the wallet with credit cards and cash or you may just be heading one way - straight towardsbroke.Don't say you haven't been warned... haha

Following is some of the big names on the strip:

I thought this was a creative window display... fun.
Stop: at this juncture, if your name is not Rockefeller, you may want to pat down your pockets and ensure your wallett is still where you put it - and that nothing is missing from it... But if you're buried in parcels then you need not bother: you're in trouble! No need for checking the pockets. That's a dead give away. haha
Oh well... no money left..? Might as well head home then, I guess...
Let me introduce you to the man holding the heavens: the Ancient Greek Titan, Atlas - haha - Lucky for the 15 foot tall man, this heaven is only 30 feet high. The bronze statue is in the style of Art Deco - the same as the entire Rockefeller Center - and weighing 7 tons. At a total of 45 feet it is the largest sculpture at Rockefeller Center. The North-South axis of the armillary sphere on his shoulders points towards the North Star as seen from New York City.
I liked the row of flags against the building.
The St. Patrick's Cathedral on 5th Avenue, Manhattan, New York. The cornerstone of this cathedral was laid on August 15, 1858 and finally completed in 1878. (Construction was delayed during the Civil War but resumed in 1865.) Looking at the surroundings of the cathedral today it is almost hard to believe that this was a dominating structure in the midtown of that day. Some olden day pictures are available on the Wikepedia site as a matter of interest. With such intricate detail it is very understandable how it could take that long to build this beautiful church. It is odd to think that they initially wanted to use the land for a cemetry. In that case - I'm almost certain - they would have had to move it at some point, considering the location and the surrounding development.

We were quite close up, as well as we sadly didn't get to see the inside, but there are some nice aerial shots of the whole building, as well as some shots of the inside online. The aerial shots gives you a nice view of the complex overall, but also shows it quite well in context to the surroundings.  
The GE Building at the heart of the Rockefeller Center. This 70-floor building is the setting for the famous Lunchtime atop a Skyscraper photograph (taken by Charles C. Ebbets in 1932) of workers sitting on a steel beam without safety harnasses, and having lunch. Today it is the headquarters of NBC, housing the studio's for shows like The Dr. Oz ShowSaturday Night Live and the operations of  NBC News. It is also the former home of Late Night with David Letterman.

On the 70th floor is a 20-foot (6 meter) wide viewing area where visitors can have a unique 360-degree panoramic view of New York City. It must be beautiful from up there at night, I'm sure.          
Some art above the entrance to another one of the 19 commercial buildings making up the Rockefeller Center.
This section here is the center of the Rockefeller Center - the Lower Plaza. It is surrounded by roughly 200 flag poles at street level. Different flags are flown at different times but during U.S. holidays every flagpole carries the American flag. The rectangular shaped "arena" (if you will) is too big to fit into one picture from my vantage point, so I've snapped three pictures from the left, to middle, to the right. (See below.)

The Rockefeller Center is among the last major building projects to have incorporated a program of integrated public art, hence many creative statues on display.  
During the Christmas holidays the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is a famed attraction. There were a few ideas for filling the centre space with a noteworthy art piece, but all of it was abandoned over time. That is for the area where you see the blue umbrellas. They found the perfect idea when finally, on Christmas Day in 1936,  the ice skating rink was installed, and since then the Center has been popular for ice-skating during the winter months.

It can just imagine it being so magical during the Christmas holidays. Whenever I've seen it in the movies I've wondered why on earth people would want to go out in the cold and ice skate. I think I know now. 
Lower Plaza - the view to the right...
Can you spot the South African flag?
This is where NBC news broadcast from. It can be viewed a little bit like a window display, I suppose, as you can see them broadcasting in the windows of the first floor. Many a celebrity has been spotted there while being interviewed.
A farmer's market in the center. I just loved the white colour of the gazebo's and railing. It made it look clean and fresh - you just want to buy something from there. (The NBC studio is across the street to my left in the way I'm standing to take this picture. The Lower Plaza  with the flags is to the right.)
This is a huge version of a Build-a-Bear store. These can be so much fun as you choose all the elements to make up your own unique teddy bear, giving it a theme and dressing and accessorising it anyway you want.

(Just as a matter of interest, I've been reading a collection of short stories published by Readers Digest in 1970. One of the stories is about the former American President, Theodore Roosevelt, whose nickname as a child was Teddy. Late in the year 1902 he was on a hunting trip. Mostly everyone else had already shot an animal, except for Roosevelt. To try and help him some men finally cornered, clubbed and tied an American Black Bear to a tree so that Roosevelt could shoot it. He refused to however, saying that it was unsportsmanlike, but suggested that the animal be killed to be put out of his misery. Before long everyone knew about this and a political cartoon published in the Washington Post became the topic of discussion. It inspired Morris Michtom to create a new toy - a stuffed bear cub called "Teddy's bear". After sending one to Roosevelt, and getting his permission to use his name, the bear became a huge success.) Turns out it not just fiction; it's actually true!

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