Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Radio City Music Hall
Radio City Music Hall is an entertainment venue located in New York City's Rockefeller Center. Known as the Showplace of the Nation, the Music Hall opened to the public on December 27, 1932, and now is home to The Radio City Christmas Spectacular, a New York Christmas tradition since 1933, and to the women's precision dance team known as The Rockettes.
Designed by Donald Deskey, the interior of the theater incorporates glass, aluminum, chrome and geometric ornamentation. Deskey rejected the Rococo embellishment generally used for theaters at that time in favor of a contemporary Art Deco style. Radio City has 5,933 seats for spectators; it became the largest indoor theater in the world at the time of its opening.
The Great Stage, measuring 66.5 feet (20 m) deep and 144 feet (44 m) wide, resembles a setting sun. Its system of elevators was so advanced that the U.S. Navy incorporated identical hydraulics in constructing World War II aircraft carriers. According to Radio City lore, during the war government agents guarded the basement to assure the Navy's technological advantage.
The 12 acre (49,000 m²) complex in midtown Manhattan known as Rockefeller Center was developed between 1929 and 1940 by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., on land leased from Columbia University. Rockefeller initially planned an opera house on the site, but changed his mind after the stock market crash of 1929. One of the complex's first tenants was The Radio Corporation of America, hence the names Radio City and Radio City Music Hall.
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