Sunday, September 9, 2012

American Girl Place, Rockefeller Center, Times Square, Radio City Music Hall

Following up on my last post (our arrival in New York City during our vacation),  from the Empire State Building we started off our late afternoon, and we proceeded on foot north ("downtown") on 5th Avenue to the corner of 5th and 49th Street to American Girl Place.   "American Girl" is a popular series of historical fiction story books for little girls, with certain key characters representing a little girl from a defined era of a couple of years of American history.  For instance, the character Molly is from World War II era, Kit (the blonde-haired doll shown in the display in the photo below) is from the Great Depression, Felicity is from the American Revolutionary War period, etc.  A major part of the American Girl enterprise is that they sell dolls representing all the characters of their story books.  Not only that, but friends and pets of each character, clothing, and numerous other accessories... about anything you can think of! They have now even produced some excellent Hollywood-caliber movies based on their historical fiction characters. The characters are also pretty ethnically/racially diverse, which is nice, capturing a major element of the USA being the "great melting pot" and our pride that our populace is made up of immigrants from many nations.     

American Girl Place in NYC is a huge 3-story store dedicated to (selling) all things American Girl, and is a huge tourist attraction - at least for folks with little girls - and truly a sight to see. While my wife and daughter really loved it and were overwhelmed, I can honestly say it was pretty interesting and overwhelming even for the dads!  They have exclusive items that can only be purchased at this particular store in NYC, an onsite hair salon for the dolls to have their hair styled, even a place where the dolls can get their ears pierced!   For our daughter's 9th birthday, which was upcoming in a couple of weeks after we had our vacation, we treated her to a celebration dinner at American Girl Cafe (on the third floor), which must be reserved pretty far ahead.  The idea behind the dinner is that the little girl  can bring along one of her dolls up to the dinner table, and the doll is placed on a special chair that clamps to the table (you can see in the photo below) and even served a "pretend" tea and snacks.  Our daughter brought her doll, Kanani, who is a Hawaiian-American character -- although no one in our family is Hawaiian-American, the doll has some resemblance to our daughter, who is Filipino-American. I was expecting that the dinner itself would be nothing to write home about, but my wife and I were really quite surprised and impressed by the gourmet quality and selection of the food served to the adults (I can't remember but I think our main course was tilapia baked with a coating of roasted cashews) and the level of service.  

American Girl Place, 5th Avenue and 49th St., NYC
American Girl Place doll hair salon

Hair Salon at American Girl Place
Dining room at American Girl Place, New York City

Dinner at American Girl Cafe, New York City

Family dinner with 'Kanani' at American Girl Cafe

Kanani's table-clamping chair at American Girl Cafe
Doll hairstylist at American Girl Place, Manhattan

"Meet Kit (1934) -  a resourceful girl facing the Great Depression with spirit and determination"

Our daughter with Kanani, a Hawaiian-American character
Just a very tiny portion of all the accessories at American Girl Place

Lots of American Girl dolls -- and a Filipino-American Girl!!!

After we ate our dinner and made a couple little purchases (accessories) at  American Girl Place, we proceeded northward on foot a short distance to Rockefeller Center.  Rockefeller Center is a historical landmark and a huge complex of commercial buildings covering 22 acres (89,000 square meters) between 48th and 51st Streets and 5th and 6th Avenues in mid-town Manhattan.  Like the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Center is a masterpiece of the Art Deco style of the late 1920's and early 1930's, and was built by John D. Rockefeller for the unheard of sum of $250 million starting in 1930, which would be worth at least $4 billion U.S. today (not even accounting for the labor, materials, and craftsmanship which could never be replicated today).  It was the largest private building project ever undertaken in modern times, and ironically, during the darkest years of the Great Depression. We stopped to take a rest there, took photographs of the tallest building in Rockefeller Center, the G.E. Building (formerly known as the RCA Building), and the famous statue "Promethesus Bringing Fire to Mankind", then we looked around a bit inside of some of the buildings.  The G.E. building is well known for housing the headquarters of NBC and the New York facilities of NBC Studios, and the comedy show "Saturday Night Live" and the morning show "The Today Show" have their studios inside the building.  The architecture and craftsmanship of Rockefeller Center is really amazing, for instance the "Wisdom and Knowledge" frieze shown below... we were all profoundly impressed and in awe at both the artistry and the monumental scale of this place. 

Family photo at Rockefeller Center Plaza

Base of the General Electric (G.E.) Building and Prometheus Statue, Rockefeller Center

Famous G.E. Building (formerly RCA building) and awesome statue, Rockefeller Center

"Prometheus Bringing Fire to Mankind" statue, Rockefeller Center, NYC

Awesome Art Deco Prometheus statue, Rockefeller Center

Base of G.E. Building and Prometheus, Rockefeller Center
"Wisdom and Knowledge" Art Deco frieze from G.E. Building, Rockefeller Center

"Prometheus Bringing Fire to Mankind"

Memorial to John D. Rockefeller, we are sitting facing the Prometheus statue and fountains at the base of the G.E. building
Admiring the G.E. Building in awe - contemplating the beauty of Rockefeller Plaza

Next, we walked a few blocks away to take in the sounds and sights of the famous Times Square, and all of its magical lights (and more recently, gigantic LCD screens) just before sundown.  An exciting place with all the lights, and tourist/family friendly.  It didn't used to be that way -- just a few years back, Times Square was pretty "sleazy" with a lot of adults-only businesses.  Mayor Bloomberg (present mayor) in particular cleaned up a lot of that and turned Times Square into a much more family-friendly and tourist-friendly place.   At this point in time the crowd was busy but fairly light... definitely a place you want to have a tight grip on your child/children. 

Family photo at Times Square, NYC
The lights and LCD screens of Times Square - looking towards where the New Year's ball drops
Hershey's chocolate store, Times Square
Sundown, Times Square
Sundown, Times Square, and all the lights and huge LCD screens
Broadway show advertisements in lights, Times Square
Bleacher seats at Times Square; Broadway shows advertising on huge screens in background

Bleacher seating at Times Square

Hershey's chocolate store on corner of W. 48th Street, Times Square

Enormous LCD screen with live shot of the crowd at Times Square
Enormous LCD screen with live shot of the crowd at Times Square

Taxis going past Times Square
Enjoying the sights and sounds of Times Square

 Finally, before returning to our hotel for the night, we walked past the renowned and historic Radio City Music Hall, another Art Deco crown jewel of New York, got some snacks, and took some photos of the exterior, which has gorgeous old-style neon lights pretty much the same as it was in the 1930's.  Actually, Radio City Music Hall is still part of Rockefeller Center.   Next time we're in Manhattan, we all want to go inside and see its Art Deco architectural splendor, as well as see a show of the Rockettes.  

Including my last post was about it for our first day in Manhattan... we covered a lot of territory in only one, and it was an exciting day.   My next post will cover at least part of what we did on day 2 in NYC...  TO BE CONTINUED!! 

Radio City Music Hall at night

Radio City Music Hall



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