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Lower Plaza

Lower Plaza (91)

You will probably feel like you are in a movie. The trees, banners, awnings, shops and obviously the figure of Prometheus are the most cinematic backdrop of the Rockefeller Center, along with the profile of its buildings and the panorama from atop the GE Building.

Originally the Lower Plaza, one floor down with respect to the pedestrian area, was created to accommodate the most luxurious shopping complex, although after the Great Depression traders went to cheaper places or simply disappeared. So in 1936 a big campaign relaunched this space with a new concept to try to move beyond this small business slump. The new idea was to transform the site according to the seasons of the year. That is, it would house a chic café in spring and summer and an ice rink in autumn and winter. It was a great success. And so it is today.

From October to April, skating here is one of the favourite pastimes of many New Yorkers, while others prefer less daring stunts and to laugh at their stumbling from above; always with the famous golden figure of Prometheus, the vertical water jets and the immense GE Building as a backdrop. If you're in New York in summer however, you can enjoy a delicious cappuccino or a glass of white wine on the café. 

The 8-tonne bronze statue of Prometheus, designed by Paul Manship, was installed in 1934 and shows the Greek Titan flying almost horizontally through a zodiac ring and a wall of water formed by the jets from behind. In his right hand he has the fire that, according to Greek mythology, he stole from the gods to offer it to humans, for which he was later punished.

Right between Prometheus and the GE Building is where every December the immense Christmas tree is installed, which you have undoubtedly seen many times on television. 

The tradition of the Christmas tree in the Lower Square dates back to 1931. To find the perfect tree, a helicopter searches neighbouring lands to find it; it must be a Picea abies at least 20 metres high and 10.5 metres wide. 

It remains there from December to January and is then reused, especially in the form of fences for equestrian events. And more than 30,000 lights are responsible for keeping the spirit of Christmas in New York alive.

Walk around the area and enjoy the Rockefeller Center. It is one hundred per cent exciting and stimulating, but often without the exaggerated bustle of other areas such as Times Square.

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