Radio City Music Hall is one of the pinnacle achievements in American theater design. Architecture critic Herbert Muschamp called it, “Manhattan’s version of a natural wonder… our Rainbow Arch, our Old Faithful, our Niagara Falls.”
Despite its mythic status, this theater was an economic failure from the start. When it was announced that there were plans to tear down the iconic theater, the public rushed to Radio City’s defense. The LPC had a hearing that attracted more than 100 speakers – including a kick line of Rockettes dancing on the steps of City Hall – and swiftly made Radio City an interior landmark over Rockefeller Center’s objections. State-funded renovations and new management structure brought Radio City back to life in 1980.
In 1999, Radio City underwent its first-ever complete restoration by a team of more than 500 workers led by the Madison Square Garden Company, Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer, and the Rockwell Group. The restoration team cleaned, repaired, reupholstered, and where necessary, recreated every element of the original interior, and modernized its infrastructure. Twice rescued, Radio City Music Hall is dazzling as ever.
Photograph 1 by T. Whitney Cox
Photograph 2–4 by Larry Lederman © All rights reserved