New Free Audio Walking Tour of Rockefeller Center® Explores the Art, Architecture, and Impact of the Center on New York City from its Inception through Today
Rockefeller Center this week launched a new way to experience its vast campus filled with more than one hundred permanent works of public art, celebrated architecture, contemporary programming and legendary pop culture icons: a free audio tour takes visitors on a 50 minute walk through the Center’s Plazas, gardens and hidden passageways on an exploration that will surprise and delight even the most in-the-know locals.
The audio tour was developed by Gesso, a New York-based media tech company that specializes in producing immersive, cinematic Audio AR experiences that go beneath the surface of iconic cultural institutions, landmarks, and neighborhoods. Gesso offers a new take on audio documentaries, by making them geo-responsive. The result is a kinetic documentary, triggered by listeners’ movements, that presents first-hand commentary from notable New Yorkers including chefs, entrepreneurs, and artists.
“This self-guided walking tour is a way for anyone who comes to our campus to experience Rockefeller Center and all it can offer in an entirely new way. As our guests explore the Center and discover its wonders firsthand, they will hear stories about New Yorkers who made the Center into what it is today and how the Center continues to evolve, championing the spirit of innovation and reinvention in the heart of New York City,” said EB Kelly, Tishman Speyer Managing Director overseeing Rockefeller Center.
The tour begins at 6th Avenue, between 49th and 50th Streets, at the fountain across from the neon lights of the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and leads guests through the heart of New York, spanning six blocks of Art Deco landscape. All guests have to do is press start in the Gesso app and let their movements unlock audio stories along the route. Highlighted stops include well-known landmarks like Radio City Music Hall, the iconic Atlas sculpture, Top of the Rock Observation Deck, the Channel Gardens, and studios where a number of popular television shows film, as well as insider locations hidden in plain sight that house invaluable artworks or hold a rich significance in the development of the Center. With little-known history and tips from New Yorkers woven throughout, the audio tour is an insider’s guide to one of New York City’s most celebrated destinations, and a glimpse into the inner workings of this city within a city. The tour uses GPS technology when enjoyed onsite, can be paused at any point, allowing listeners to enjoy restaurants and retailers as they explore the campus, and can also be enjoyed remotely.
Along the way, guests will learn about the Center’s beginnings and vision of reinvention, revel in its contemporary and art deco architecture, and get a taste for global cuisines and inventive retail as dynamic as New York. Beginning with the acquisition of the property by John D. Rockefeller Jr. in the roaring 20s, guests will be treated to behind-the-scenes stories about the many years of redevelopment, innovation, and art, right up to the present-day art installations currently on display including Sanford Biggers’ campus-wide public art exhibition. The audio tour will be updated seasonally to reflect the latest happenings at Rockefeller Center.
“Many people can conjure images of the Rockettes, the Christmas tree, and the rink, but there’s so much more to Rockefeller Center that even locals don’t know. Rockefeller Center was built as an audacious dream during a time of peril and change, paralleling the time we’re living through now. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to help tell the rich stories echoing off of these very walls. Gesso was founded on our team’s shared passion for spotlighting human creativity and connection—which Rockefeller Center embodies all the way from the neon lights above, the labyrinths below and everywhere in between. As a new media company, we’ve been particularly inspired to see how Rock Center’s belief in the power of wide-spread knowledge manifests in its art and architecture, and how that belief continues to spur innovation and cultural creation today.” said Henna Wang, Co-founder of Gesso.
About Tishman Speyer
Tishman Speyer is a leading owner, developer, operator and investment manager of first-class real estate in 28 key markets across the United States, Europe, Asia and Latin America. We develop, build and manage premier office, residential and retail spaces for industry-leading tenants, as well as state-of-the-art life science centers through our Breakthrough Properties venture. With global vision, on-the-ground expertise and a personalized approach, we are unparalleled in our ability to foster innovation, quickly adapt to global and local trends and proactively anticipate our customers’ evolving needs. By focusing on health and wellness, enlightened placemaking and customer-focused initiatives such as our tenant amenities platform, ZO., and our flexible space and co-working brand, Studio, we tend not just to our physical buildings, but to the people who inhabit them on a daily basis. Since our inception in 1978, Tishman Speyer has acquired, developed, and operated 453 properties, totaling 210 million square feet, with a combined value of approximately $113 billion (U.S.). Our current portfolio includes such iconic assets as Rockefeller Center in New York City, The Springs in Shanghai, TaunusTurm in Frankfurt and the Mission Rock neighborhood currently being realized in San Francisco.
Gesso is an audio AR platform that inspires meaningful explorations of the world through immersive, cinematic audio experiences. Gesso empowers listeners to feel a sense of belonging and empathy wherever they may go in the world. Through our location-relevant platform, listeners can explore places, both new and familiar, while listening to informational and inspirational audio content. Prompting introspection, reflection and consideration, Gesso is a vehicle for listeners to
consider the experience of being human through spatial audio storytelling.