30 Rockefeller Plaza, Rainbow Room – 65th Floor, request for designation as an interior landmark.
WHEREAS, The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission ("LPC") has received an application known as a "Request for Evaluation" for considering designation of a portion of the 65th Floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, known as the Rainbow Room, as an Interior Landmark; and
WHEREAS, The Rainbow Room is one of the most celebrated spaces in the world and remains a New York City icon to this day (similar to the Ballroom and the Oak Room of the Plaza Hotel and the Four Seasons Restaurant, which are all Interior Landmarks) with significance for its social and cultural importance as well as its architecture and decor; and
WHEREAS, Rockefeller Center is a Landmark which includes the following Interior Landmarks: the lobbies at 30 Rockefeller Plaza and the International Building and the interior of Radio City Music Hall; however, research by Community Board Five did not ascertain why the Rainbow Room was not considered for designation as an Interior Landmark by the LPC at the time of those approvals; and
WHEREAS, The Rainbow Room was designed by Associated Architects, a collaboration of three firms of renowned architects, Reinhard & Hofmeister; Corbett, Harrison & MacMurray; and Raymond Hood, Godley & Fouilhoux, with Raymond Hood as the lead architect; and
WHEREAS, The interior decoration is attributed to Elena Schmidt, a protege of Elsie de Wolfe and wife of the prominent New York architect Mott B. Schmidt with whom she sometimes worked, with assistance from Vincente Minnelli, a young designer at the time, who later became an important Hollywood film director; and
WHEREAS, The space, opened to the public as a glamorous nightclub on October 3, 1934, in the depths of the Depression, was a dramatic icon of the human spirit triumphing over adversity and the despair of the times and was named for the lighting effects produced by the RCA color organ, washing various hues over the 41 foot diameter domed ceiling at night; and
WHEREAS, The architecture and interior design constitute one of the City's most dramatic settings and its best known rooftop nightclub, with double height ceilings unencumbered by internal supports, a 32 foot diameter circular revolving dance floor at its open center, stepped sitting terraces with their original round crystal ballustrades, Czechoslovakian crystal chandeliers and 24 foot high floor to ceiling windows; and
WHEREAS, Although the organ has been removed (similar lighting effects are now computer generated) and other major renovations have occurred over the years, the Rainbow Room contains many of its original elements that are unchanged since its inception, such as the basic configuration of the room, the chandeliers, platform terraces and most of the ballustrades, the central dance floor (although the compass-rose inlay of maple and fumed oak surface has been replaced twice by members of the same family as the original installer) and the same window placements, which provide sweeping vistas over the City; and
WHEREAS, This unique interior has many of the features common to other NYC Interior Landmarks, including the location for famous events and its association with notable public figures and entertainers, becoming an integral part of American popular culture as the prototypical nightclub inspiring Hollywood producers and directors conceptually and actually appearing in numerous popular films; and
WHEREAS, The Rainbow Room has featured performances by scores of legendary Hollywood, Broadway, Swing Era and Jazz entertainers including Mary Martin (who made her debut here in 1939), Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Noel Coward, Cole Porter, Edgar Bergen (and Charlie McCarthy), Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Dave Brubeck and Cab Calloway, inspiring numerous musical recordings given the attribution of "Live at the Rainbow Room"; and
WHEREAS, It has hosted numerous charitable events, political gatherings, awards ceremonies, fashion shows, weddings and other celebrations; and
WHEREAS, During the day the room functions as the Rockefeller Center Luncheon Club, said to be New York's oldest luncheon club in continuous operation; and
WHEREAS, Support for designation has been indicated by New York Landmarks Conservancy, the Municipal Art Society, the Historic Districts Council, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, and the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council as well as prominent individuals such as Richard Parsons, Chairman of Time Warner; and
WHEREAS, Since 1998 management has been taken over by Cipriani USA and it is now used primarily as a catering and event facility, but continues to have general public access for Sunday Brunch and certain designated Friday nights each month and according to some estimates over 10 million people have visited the Rainbow Room over its 74 year history; and
WHEREAS, The owner of Rockefeller Center, Tishman Speyer, has been invited to comment to Community Board Five, but has written to CB 5 that it is waiting to hear from LPC staff and they are "continuing to study the issue as well"; and
WHEREAS, The Rainbow Room is deemed to have significant cultural and architectural importance; therefore, be it
RESOLVED, Community Board 5 recommends approval of that portion of the 65th Floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, known as the Rainbow Room, for designation as an Interior Landmark.
The above resolution passed by a vote of 22 in favor, 4 opposed, 4 abstaining, 1 present not entitled to vote.