Thursday, 7 July 2011

The Rock of the City

Prometheus bringing fire to mankind at Rockefeller Plaza

30 Rock is one of my favourite television series created by comedian Tina Fey. She stars in a fictional comedy show loosely based on Saturday Night Live with a cast of quirky characters that includes her smarmy boss played by Alec Baldwin. The fictional and real show is on NBC, which is broadcast from Rockefeller Plaza.
Art Deco-style art is visible on many buildings
The opening sequence of the show features images of Rockefeller Plaza, particularly the bronze gilded Prometheus bringing fire to mankind in the lower plaza, the soaring tower and scenes of New York. I took the bus down there and wandered the area, with its brand name stores, Cole Haan, Coach, Lego.
It was disappointing to have my view of Prometheus obstructed by giant blue umbrellas to help shield diners from the sun. Nevertheless it was wonderful to see all kinds of art deco-style art on the buildings and foyers. I hope my next visit to New York includes skating in the lower plaza.
The complex was the brainchild of John D. Rockefeller Jr who developed the space, leasing it from Columbia University in 1930. Originally he had planned to build an opera house for the Metropolitan Opera but then changed his mind the day after the 1929 stockmarket crash.
Atlas holds the world on Fifth Avenue
As the sole financier for the project, Rockefeller developed the largest private building project in modern times with 14 buildings. At first Rockefeller did not want his family name associated with the plaza, but Ivy Lee, a public relations expert and advisor to the family said having the name Rockefeller Center would help attract tenants.
The idea worked -- with companies such as GE, NBC, General Dynamics, Time-Life and RCA signing up. In the end the complex has a total of 19 buildings. It was even the location of the US operations of British Intelligence and Allied intelligence that later became the Central Intelligence Agency.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a plaque which seems to be Rockefeller Jr's manifesto on his beliefs. The plaque was erected in 1962, but it is believed he expressed these thoughts in 1941.

The former RCA building is the home of NBC
I believe in the supreme worth of the individual and in his right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty.
I believe that the law was made for man and not man for the law; that government is the servant of the people and not their master.
I believe in the dignity of labour, whether with head or hand; that the world owes no man a living but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living.
I believe that thrift is essential to well ordered living and that economy is a prime requisite of a sound financial structure, whether in government, business or personal affairs.
I believe that truth and justice are fundamental to an enduring social order.
I believe in the sacredness of a promise, that a man's word should be as good as his bond; that character not wealth or power or position -- is of supreme worth.
I believe that the rendering of useful service is the common duty of mankind and that only in the purifying fire of sacrifice is the dross of selfishness consumed and the greatness of the human soul set free.
I believe in an all-wise and all-loving God, named by whatever name, and that the individuals highest fulfillment, greatest happiness, and widest usefulness are to be found in living in harmony with His will.
I believe that love is the greatest thing in the world; that it alone can overcome hate; that right can and will triumph over might.

The beliefs and values he talked about some 70 years ago still resonates today.

1 comment:

  1. unfortunately he does not believe in freedom of artistic expression. he fired diego rivera and dismantled his decorative murals in the lobby because they are too communistic.