A Tour of New York’s Radio City Music Hall

By Phineas Upham

Radio City Music Hall was originally slated to be named the International Music Hall when it was first conceived by John D. Rockefeller Jr. He’d leased the land it would be built on from Columbia University, and had hired Edward Durell Stone as the chief architect for the project. His vision was for an art deco building, a style popular at that point.

The first tenant in the building was the Radio Corporation of America, so the hall became the Radio City Music Hall. It opened to great fanfare, promising a return to the high-class spectacle entertainment popular throughout the 1920s. This was 1932, and The Great Depression was in full swing. Few had money flowing freely, so the venue had a lackluster launch.

That launch was marred by the dawn of the video and film theater ages of the 1970s. During that time, the Radio City Music Hall struggled to find talent and fill seats, so it switched to film but only showed G-rated features. At one point in 1979, the theater was in such dire conditions that there were plans in place to try and convert it into an office building. Fortunately, John Belushi delivered an impassioned speech that helped spearhead a conservation movement to restore the building.

After the renovation it re-opened, and today it is the home of the finals for America’s Got Talent and the Rockette Christmas show. Cirque Du Soleil has also performed there. It’s been home to a number of important moments in television, including Jeopardy’s 4,000th episode.

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Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Phineas Upham website or Twitter page.

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