There are numerous iconic landmarks in NYC that everyone in the world wants to see. You’ll see them in TV shows, movies and advertisements across the globe. One of those iconic landmarks is Radio City Music Hall in Midtown.
It is a very famous theater and all of the entertainment legends have most likely performed in this grand arena. It is part of the Rockefeller Center and is in close proximity to the Top of the Rock and the Museum of Modern Art. Times Square is also within walking distance.
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When Did Radio City Music Hall Open?
Radio City Music Hall belongs to New York like its yellow cabs and opened in 1932. It initially served as a movie theater and later became one of the most prestigious concert halls worldwide. Radio City Music Hall was designed by Edward Durell Stone and Donald Deskey.
Radio City Music Hall History
Much of Radio City Music Hall still looks like how it did 80 years ag0 when it was first built. The Radio City Music Hall’s history goes back decades ago. You’ve probably seen the old neon sign in many movies and shows which gives you the impression that you’ve been here already. The theater can be easily spotted and you can’t miss it. The sign is gigantic and is one of a kind. Just walk along 6th Avenue and you’ll most likely see it a few blocks away.
Just like the Rockefeller Center, the Radio City Music Hall is built in an Art Deco style and looks back on eventful times. It first opened in 1932 and at that time was considered the largest concert hall in the world.
Saving Radio City Music Hall
In 1978, it was announced that the music hall, even though famous and well known was in debt. It was about to get the wrecking ball and was set for demolition in April of 1978. There was a widespread campaign to save the famous venue that caught the attention of people nationwide.
Two weeks before getting the wrecking ball, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission declared Radio City Music Hall a landmark. Later on it became a National Register of Historic Places which saved it from being demolished.
The Radio City Music Hall Stage
It might not sound like much but the stage at Radio City Music Hall is quite a feat in itself. The Radio City Music Hall stage is as long as a New York street block. It features state-of-the-art LED technology and a built-in hydraulic system that can move parts of the stage up and down.
As a matter of fact, the original system and operational mechanics of the stage is still being used today. It goes to show you that the hydraulic system never really had to be upgraded and it’s a testament to how well and advanced this theater was at the time. With the hydraulic system, 300 tons can be moved up and down which is really impressive. The technology was so advanced that during WWII, guards and US agents would guard the system so enemy spies couldn’t steal the technology.
Radio City Christmas Spectacular
The Radio City Music Hall is not only famous for big events like the MTV Music Awards or the Tony Awards. Music legends such as Mariah Carey, the late Whitney Houston and Nas have already performed at the world-famous stage.
The most famous show is not even a concert or event at all. The Radio City Christmas Spectacular features probably the most sought after dance group. This group is called the New York City Rockettes and have been an integral part of Radio City Music Hall since the 1930s.
Here’s a fun fact, the Rockettes originally started out in St. Louis, Missouri. From November to the beginning of January the The Christmas Spectacular is performed up to 6 times per day. Tickets usually sell really fast so make sure you book your tickets way in advance. The tickets are very popular especially leading up to the Holidays.
More Events at Radio City Music Hall
Aside from the Christmas Spectacular, other prestigious events at Radio City Music Hall such as the NFL Draft were held here. The draft has always been a tradition at the theater and was regularly held here from 2006 to 2014 but now they have ventured to other venues nationwide.
The music hall can turn into many things. There have been boxing matches here as well. The most recent one was a fight between Nonito Donaire and Guillermo Rigondeaux in 2013. Even the great Roy Jones Jr. has fought here.
What’s the capacity at Radio City Music Hall? There are 5,931 seats but can be extended up to over 6,000 seats. Radio City Music Hall was one of the largest of its kind in the world in the 1930’s. The best thing about it is that it is considered to not have a bad seat here.
Most theaters have pillars to support the venue. Radio City doesn’t have any so there aren’t any objects obstructing the viewer. A current seating plan for the performances of the Rockettes can be seen below. Here is a better overview and a seating chart from Radio City Music Hall:
Concerts in the Radio City Music Hall
There are also many concerts that take place at Radio City Music Hall. It’s one of the destinations for many artists and celebrities to perform at. Maria Carey, Lady Gaga, Seal, Meat Loaf – even Michael Jackson performed at the Radio City Music Hall.
If you want to check out a concert at Radio City Music Hall, make sure you book your tickets early because they sell out fast.
One tour we definitely recommend is the Radio City Music Hall Stage Door Tour. This tour is very informational and will take you behind the scenes of the Radio city concert hall for about 75 minutes. You’ll be able to see dressing rooms of celebrities and artists that have performed there.
You’ll also learn the history of the famous Rockettes even walk in their training hall. During our tour we were able to meet one of the Rockettes and she explains what life is like as a Rockette.