Rockefeller Center roof top gardens

Rockefeller gardens
Most New Yorkers have either stopped by or been inside of Rockefeller Center, but how many of us know about the rooftop gardens?  And how many people visited  them?
The gardens on Rockefeller Center's building rooftops were part of architect Raymond Hood's original 1930 scheme.  There were the plans to have gardens on the roofs of all  buildings and also the plans for connecting bridges between the rooftops.   But it was difficult  time and  roof top gardens only were included  only on four buildings.

On the RCA building, the small  garden included a bird sanctuary, vegetable garden, rock gardens and   children's garden. The garden designer   Hancock called his masterpiece “The Gardens of the Nations,” taking inspiration from the styles of gardens in a number of different countries, including Holland, France, Japan, Italy and Spain. Native plants, a Zen garden, topiary, fountains, sculpture, stone walls and a winding rock garden were all part of the plan. 

 3,000 tons of earth, 500 tons of brick, 20,000 tulip bulbs and 2,000 trees and shrubs were lifted  up 11 stories.   96,000 gallons a day were lifted by electric pump to the rooftop.  Over 400 people attended the opening day on April 15, 1935, including   Nelson Rockefeller and ambassadors from each of the countries represented in the gardens.  

About  87,000 visitors visited RCA garden on the 11th floor deck for next 8 months. The Entry fee first was one dollar and later went down to 40 cents.  So it is not surprise that the garden became  non  profitable and  was closed in three years.
The gardens above the Palazzo d'Italia and the International Building North, designed by A.M. Van den Hoek, also survive today.  The original design for these gardens included large beds of ivy, evergreen hedges, cobblestone walkways and fountains. These spaces were restricted to private use from their inception and today can only be viewed by tenants in the surrounding buildings.

   The gardens on the British Empire (International) Building and La Maison Francaise, also designed by Hancock, are largely intact today.  Each formal garden is roughly 12,000 square feet and includes privet hedges, rectangular lawn, and a shallow pool.    Access to the gardens is rare - mostly reserved for Rockefeller employees. 

You can see  the  gardens from the sky lobby on the 24 floor of the Tower 49. Tower 49 is    an office skyscraper.  Entrances are both  from  48th Street and 49th Street between 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue.   Tower49  was designed by the renowned architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill  and completed in 1984.
Tower49, Lobby

Refurbished in 2013   the grand lobby features  24-foot  ceilings   and is an excellent space for the art  exhibitions.  Now on view there are the works of three artists who taught in the  Liberal arts college in Bennington, Vermont   college during the 1960s. The exhibition starts in the lobby and continues on the 24th floor- you just have to ask  the receptionist.  The exhibition  is open  to public Monday through Friday, 9am– 6pm,or otherwise by appointment.
Read more here.

Sky Lobby


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