One of the city’s most popular destinations for tourists and locals alike, The Rink at the Rockefeller Center, opened for its current season this past Tuesday, and this year the rink is celebrating its 80th anniversary (!!).
The rink opened up amid much fanfare on Christmas Day in 1936. With lights for nighttime skating, a heated changing room, along with a dining area and music, it was nothing like the city had to offer at the time. But it was never supposed to last. The rink was just a temporary installation, but due to its wild popularity it became a permanent fixture the following year onward.
In subsequent years, the rink has been frequented by the likes of Jackie Kennedy, Truman Capote, and Lucille Ball. Many Olympic medal winners have performed and skated on the rink most notably Michelle Kwan, and Kristi Yamaguchi, and in recent years, the 2014 ice dancing gold medalists, Meryl Davis and Charlie White.
A bronze gilded statue of prometheus created by sculptor Paul Manship in 1934, sits amid a fountain, both of which overlook the rink, and the iconic Christmas tree sits on the west side of the rink. The rink reportedly attracts 165,000 skaters every year. About 150 are permitted to go on at one time, and during the season the rink remains open 8:30 a.m. to midnight.
To mark the 80th celebration this year, the rink will play the Billboard #1 hits from the last 80 years, and the restaurants around it are also altering their decor and their menu to harken back to the opening years and to commemorate the celebration.
Now check out a dozen of these great historic images of the ice skating rink as it established itself as one of NYC’s top cultural destinations.