Sunday, December 28, 2008

December 27:

1932 : Radio City Music Hall opens

At the height of the Great Depression, thousands turn out
for the opening of Radio City Music Hall, a magnificent
Art Deco theater in New York City. Radio City Music Hall
was designed as a palace for the people, a place of beauty
where ordinary people could see high-quality entertainment.
Since its 1932 opening, more than 300 million people have
gone to Radio City to enjoy movies, stage shows, concerts,
and special events.

Radio City Music Hall was the brainchild of the billionaire
John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who decided to make the theater
the cornerstone of the Rockefeller Complex he was building
in a formerly derelict neighborhood in midtown Manhattan.
The theater was built in partnership with the Radio Corporation
of America (RCA) and designed by Donald Deskey. The result
was an Art Deco masterpiece of elegance and grace
constructed out of a diverse variety of materials, including
aluminum, gold foil, marble, permatex, glass, and cork.
Geometric ornamentation is found throughout the theater,
as is Deskey's central theme of the "Progress of Man."
The famous Great Stage, measuring 60 feet wide and 100
feet long, resembles a setting sun. Its sophisticated system
of hydraulic-powered elevators allowed spectacular effects
in staging, and many of its original mechanisms are still in
use today.

In its first four decades, Radio City Music Hall alternated as a
first-run movie theater and a site for gala stage shows. More
than 700 films have premiered at Radio City Music Hall since
1933. In the late 1970s, the theater changed its format and
began staging concerts by popular music artists. The Radio
City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular, which debuted in 1933,
draws more than a million people annually. The show features
the high-kicking Rockettes, a precision dance troupe that has
been a staple at Radio City since the 1930s.

In 1999, the Hall underwent a seven-month, $70 million restoration. Today, Radio City Music Hall remains the largest indoor theater in the world.


General Interest
1932 : Radio City Music Hall opens
1831 : HMS Beagle departs England
1968 : Apollo 8 returns to Earth
1978 : Spanish king ratifies democratic constitution

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