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Episode 495             Episode 497
Episode 496

Construction of Rockefeller Center
Thu, 2018-Sep-13 00:46 UTC
Length - 4:21

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Welcome to featured Wiki of the Day where we read the summary of the featured Wikipedia article every day.

The featured article for Thursday, 13 September 2018 is Construction of Rockefeller Center.

The construction of New York City's Rockefeller Center complex was conceived as an urban renewal project, spearheaded by John D. Rockefeller Jr., to help revitalize Midtown Manhattan. Rockefeller Center is located on one of Columbia University's former campuses and is bounded by Fifth Avenue to the east, Sixth Avenue (Avenue of the Americas) to the west, 48th Street to the south, and 51st Street to the north. The center occupies 22 acres (8.9 ha) in total, with some 17 million square feet (1.6×10^6 m2) of office space.

Columbia University had acquired the site in the early 19th century, but had moved to Morningside Heights in Upper Manhattan in the early 1900s. By the 1920s, Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan was a prime site for development. Around that time, the Metropolitan Opera (Met) was looking for a new site for its opera house; and their architect, Benjamin Wistar Morris, decided on the former Columbia site.

Rockefeller eventually became involved in the project and, in 1928, leased the Columbia site for 87 years. Rockefeller's lease excluded land along the east side of Sixth Avenue, to the west of the Rockefeller property, as well as at the site's southeast corner. Rockefeller hired Todd, Robertson and Todd as design consultants and selected Corbett, Harrison & MacMurray; Hood, Godley & Fouilhoux; and Reinhard & Hofmeister as architects for the new opera complex. However, the Met was unsure about moving to the new complex, and the Wall Street Crash of 1929 put an end to the plans. Rockefeller instead entered into negotiations with the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) to create a new mass-media complex on the site. A new plan was released in January 1930, and an update to the plan was presented after Rockefeller obtained a lease for the land along Sixth Avenue. Revisions continued until March 1931, when the current site-design was unveiled. A late change to the proposal included a complex of internationally themed structures along Fifth Avenue.

All structures in the original complex were designed in the Art Deco architectural style. Excavation of the site started in April 1931, and construction of the first buildings began that September. The first of the complex's edifices was opened in September 1932, and most of the complex was completed by 1935. The final three buildings in the original complex were built between 1936 and 1940, although Rockefeller Center was officially completed by November 2, 1939. The construction project employed over 40,000 people and was considered the largest private construction project at the time. It had cost the equivalent of $1.4 billion in 2016 dollars to construct. Since then, there have been several modifications to the complex. An additional building at 75 Rockefeller Plaza was constructed in 1947, while another at 600 Fifth Avenue was constructed in 1952. Four towers were built along the west side of Sixth Avenue in the 1960s and 1970s, which was the most recent expansion of Rockefeller Center. One structure in the original complex, the Center Theatre, was demolished in 1954.

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