May 2, 2016

Touring NYC and Radio City

When I was 10, on my first trip to NYC, my parents took me to Radio City Music. I was brought to tears when the organs came out the side walls and the orchestra rose up from the floor.  To me it was magical.  Radio City’s two Wurlitzer Organs are the only two of its kind in the world.  Interestingly, the organ players crawl through a tiny door to get to their stools without
being noticed. I have been to Radio City several times since my first visit.  On a recent visit to The Big Apple John and I made good use of our New York City Explorer Pass.  The discount pass saved us money on attractions and I liked that we could build our own pass selecting the places we wanted to visit; the pass is good for a year.  The Radio City Back Door Tour is one of the things I have always wanted to do – so we used our NYC Explorer Pass. We had a 20-minute wait before our tour started but no problem. Tickets are picked up a Radio City Sweet and Gift Shop. We loaded up on our favorite candies.  

The tour started in the Art Deco main lobby with a history of the building which was built in 1929 when the stock market crashed.  The area was known as the “speakeasy belt” so John D. Rockefeller’s plan was to gentrify the area and provide jobs.  The guide pointed out unique aspects in the 60-foot high Grand Foyer such as the carpet that features abstract designs of musical instruments and the massive “The Fountain of Youth” mural. The impressive theater
was designed to bring to mind a sunset.  There is no bad seat in the house as there are no pillars.  It is the largest indoor theater in the world with seating for 6000 people. The original stage is amazing; it can be raised and lowered plus the center portion can be rotated with a push of the button.  The ladies’ powder room still retains the elegance of an earlier day when people dressed in their finest to go to Radio City. The highlight of the tour was meeting one of the Rockettes. Rockettes must be physically fit because there are times when they do four shows a day. They must be at least 18 years old and between five-six and five-ten. About 500 try out each year for the 80 positions.  The Rockette I met has been one for 15 years.

We also used our Explorer Pass for Circle Line’s “Best of New
York City” for which we paid a $5 upgrade.  It was worth it.  We had never completely circled Manhattan Island. The boat went up the East River and down the Hudson past the Statue of Liberty. There are 20 bridges that connect Manhattan Island to the mainland. Some of the bridges are lift bridges and
some swing bridges.  We had to wait for the northbound train to go over one of the bridges before it could be lifted.  Dave, our tour guide, was one of the best guides we have ever had.  He obviously had a theater background so not only did we learn a lot of interesting facts it was fun. We also used our pass to take the hop-on hop-off tour; a “must-do” when visiting any city. There are several routes to choose from.