Rockefeller Center Christmas tree

It doesn't get much more "iconic NYC Christmas" than the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, towering above the ice rink below. The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is a world-wide symbol of the holidays in New York City. 

Daniel Okrent in his book 'The epic of Rockefeller center' wrote: "A progenitor of the world's mot famous Christmas tree was a relatively modest balsam rising out of the rock floor near the eastern end of the central block ( of the future Rockefeller center). On December 31, 1931  some very fortunate men dressed the tree in strings of cranberries, garland of paper an even few tin cans."  The men were fortunate because they had jobs and it was the time of Great Depression.
Official Christmas tree tradition at Rockefeller Center began in 1933. Usually the lighting is at the first days of December.   Starting from 1986 the tree is  always    Norway spruce  between  69 to 100 feet tall. The tallest tree was from Connecticut  in 1999 and stood 100 feet tall. 
The 2013 tree  is  76 feet tall and weighs 12 tons, and it was first planted by the original owners of the Vargoshe family's home  (Connecticut)  Otto and Susan Luchtenberg  in 1953. The couple decided to get a “living” Christmas tree. After Christmas, they planted it back in their front yard.
Tree arrived (2010 photo)
The  85-foot Norway spruce  of 2014 was donated by a central Pennsylvania family.  The  78-foot, 10-ton  2015 tree was from Gardiner, New York. Last year the  94-foot Norway spruce  tree   arrived from the backyard in Oneonta, New York.

2017 year Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, an enormous, 12-ton Norway spruce,which is estimated to be around 80 years old, made the journey from State College, PA
Since 2007, the tree has been lit completely by solar-powered LED lights. This year  it is illuminated by 50,000 of them!  And it  is topped with a Swarovski crystal star.
Here is my collection of Rockefeller Christmas tree pictures. The first photo was taken  in December 2005.

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FAO Schwarz, the oldest toy store in the United States is open in Rocekfeller Center

FAO Schwarz, founded in 1862, is the oldest toy store in the United States .  It is one of the most famous toy stores in New York City,  and  one of the most famous toy stores in the world. 
There has been an F.A.O. Schwarz toy store in New York City for the past 147 years!  

Frederick   Schwarz was born in Herford, Westphalia. In 1856, Frederick, the youngest of three Schwarz brothers, emigrated to the U.S.   joining his brothers in Baltimore, Maryland.  Six years later, the brothers opened ''Toy Bazaar,'' their first toy retailing business.  Following the success of ''Toy Bazaar,'' Frederick moved to New York City in 1870 where he opened his first toy store  at 765 Broadway, a location that placed him at the center of what was then New York's most fashionable shopping district. 

  Schwarz is believed to have introduced the first live Santa Clause in December 1875;  it inspired   other stores, including Macy's, to offer their own versions. In 1896, Schwarz proclaimed the store as the "Original Santa Claus Headquarters" in New York.
 In 1876 the company issued its first catalog, attracting an even wider consumer base. That same year Schwarz moved the business uptown, to larger quarters at 42 East Fourteenth Street.

F.A.O Schwarz, 5th Avenue
By the end of the decade Schwarz  was reputed to be the largest toy dealer in the world.  Parents and kids were  impressed  by his   displays of handmade dolls with elaborate wardrobes,    exotic stuffed animals covered with real fur, authentically detailed toy soldiers and models of full-rigged sailing vessels and  working reproductions of trains and carriages.

In 1931, the New York City location moved to 745 Fifth Avenue into Squibb Building,  the new   Art Deco   skyscraper. At one point, there were 40 locations across the United States, but the Fifth Avenue store is the last one remaining.
In May 2009, Toys "R" Us Inc. acquired FAO Schwarz. 

F.A.O Schwarz, 5th Avenue

Three years ago rising rents in midtown Manhattan have claimed another victim: The F.A.O. Schwarz flagship store on Fifth Avenue closed its doors on July 15, 2015.

There were rumors that the new store will be  open at the base of Paramount Group‘s 2.5-million-square-foot office tower at 1633 Broadway between West 50th and West 51st Streets, just in time for the 2016 Christmas season. It did not happen.

Just three years after its Fifth Avenue storefront shuttered back in 2015, FAO Schwarz's new flagship is open again.   The store  reopened  at 30 Rockefeller Center on November 16, 2018.

The trademark toy soldier uniforms  were redesigned.  The retailer  brought  back the iconic dance-on piano and clock tower while adding new interactive toys and activities, including a build-your-own race car station, live magic shows and play grocery store. 

Life-sized versions of classic toys such as a space ship, fire truck and toy train  serve as bulk candy containers, and recognizable design elements such as the Toy Soldier and a New York City subway car  serve as a check-out counter. 

 In addition, visitors  find several new products in the entertainment program :  among them, a toy store, training bus racing and exciting magic show.
There are even more things to experience in the new location. For one, when kids pick out a doll, they'll be "interviewed" by an "adoption agency" to ensure that they'll be a good parent to their inanimate child.

What is Salmagundi?

Salmagundi refers to either a salad like dish or a pirate-style stew that came about in the 17th and 18th centuries . The stew includes   anything the cook has on hand. 
Salmagundi  as a  salad  has meat, anchovies, eggs, and onions, often arranged in rows on lettuce and served with vinegar and oil, and spiced with anything available.    The French word "salmagondis" means a hodgepodge or mix of widely disparate things. 

Salmagundi is also a name of a  the literary magazine that was found by Irvin Show in  January 1807 in New York.  Irwin Show is American playwright and novelist whose written works have sold more than 14 million copies.
 Irvin used different pseudonyms such as  William Wizard and Launcelot Langstaff and wrote a  lot of satiric articles about the life in New York .  In its seventeenth issue, dated November 11, 1807, Irvin used the word "Gotham" as a nickname  for New York for the first time. I wrote about  it in one of my earlier posts.
Salmagundi is also a name of the club, one of the oldest art organizations in the United States.
Salmagundi Club,   originally called the New York Sketch Class,  it had its beginnings in Greenwich Village where in the studio of the sculptor Jonathan Scott  Hartley a group of artists, students, and friends at the National Academy of Design gathered weekly on Saturday evenings. Hartley  sculpted three of the nine busts around the front of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.

The Club adopted its present name a hundred years ago after Washington Irving published "The Salmagundi Papers".   The name also serves as the club dining room's famous "Salmagundi Stew".  
The club had several temporally locations and  in 1917   purchased the 1852 Irad Hawley brownstone townhouse at 47 Fifth Avenue between East Eleventh and East Twelfth Streets. Hawley  was   the  first president of the Pennsylvania Coal Company.  The borough of Hawley in Pennsylvania in Wayne County was named after him. 

The Club offers programs including exhibitions, painting demonstrations, and art auctions throughout the year for members and the general public.

The  club has  three galleries, a library,  and a restaurant and bar with vintage pool tables. All facilities are available for special events and private rentals.
The Club owns a collection of over 1,500 works of art spanning its 140 year history and has a membership of nearly 850 artists and patrons.

The Salmagundi Club offers a variety of Art Classes, all open to the public. All classes are $20 per class to attend and are "walk-in" classes (no advance notice is required). Attendees must bring their own art supplies but easels and tables are provided as are models for the life drawing classes.