The great architectural masterworks of Midtown take center stage today, beginning with a presentation by Daniel Okrent, first public editor of the New York Times and an author and collaborator with Ken Burns on several films. Daniel Okrnet wrote the...
The great architectural masterworks of Midtown take center stage today, beginning with a presentation by Daniel Okrent, first public editor of the New York Times and an author and collaborator with Ken Burns on several films. Daniel Okrnet wrote the Pulitzer-nominated Great Fortune – the Epic Story of Rockefeller Center as well as The Rise and Fall of Prohibition – he'll offer insights into both the Prohibition era and the building of Rockefeller Center and will be available for a Q & A. Depart The Plaza for Grand Central Terminal (completed in 1913), one of New York's most beautiful architectural landmarks, for a docent-led guided tour of its monumental spaces and artfully crafted details, from the Beaux-Arts sculpture of Minerva, Hercules and Mercury at its crest to the Zodiac ceiling over the Main Concourse, to the cavernous track levels underground. This boldly designed terminal with vaulted ceilings and cathedral windows replaced the original Grand Central Depot built by railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt; a palatial hall at the 42nd Street entrance is named after him, adorned with gold chandeliers and pink marble. Discover mazes of polished granite corridors lined with food courts, food markets, bakeries, shops, and restaurants as well as hidden passageways and little-known features. You'll be amazed by Grand Central's stunning Beaux-Arts main concourse and its famous clock, stories-high windows and constellation-embellished cerulean blue ceiling.
After lunch, it’s not far to the centerpiece of Midtown: Rockefeller Center, a complex of 19 skyscrapers built in the 1930s, spread over 22 acres with a public concourse and plaza. The brainchild of John D. Rockefeller Jr, the project was nearly killed before it started when the Stock Market Crash of 1929 evaporated financing... so Rockefeller took on the financial burden himself (a staggering $250 million). Completed in 1939, its legendary success is matched by its artistic design and beauty, its Art Deco frescoes and iconic sculptures, its innovative underground shopping concourse, and the public spaces, which draw visitors from around the world. Its earthbound feature many modernist sculptures, bas reliefs, and mosaics – they are there thanks to John’s wife, Abby, who later founded the Museum of Modern Art. Rise skyward for a visit to the Top of Rock, the observation deck of the GE Building, for breathtaking views of the city.
Return to the Plaza for time at leisure, and then take a privately chartered ferryboat this evening from Battery Park to Ellis Island – open to Tauck guests only. This island, with its processing center in Upper New York Bay, was the gateway to the New World for millions of immigrants from 1892 to 1954; it also the site of heartbreak for those who were turned away. Enjoy a private cocktail reception at the museum and, if you wish, a showing of a film on the Ellis Island experience, Island of Hope, Island of Tears, narrated by Gene Hackman. The centerpiece of the complex is the Great Hall, also known as the Registry Room, a vast space with wrap-around balconies, arched windows and vaulted tiled ceilings where on any given day, at the height of the immigration wave, as many as 5,000 people would be queued up in snaking lines for processing. Once they passed the “six-second physical,” the interrogation took two minutes. It would establish the immigrant’s name, age, sex, religion, last residence, trade or profession, whether they had relatives here, and whether they had the minimum amount of money needed to get started in America (in 1909, about $25). The list of those who made it through this hall on their way to a new life, and what they contributed to American life and culture, is staggering; to name a few… Irving Berlin, Cary Grant, Frank Capra, Al Jolson, Harry Houdini, Edward G. Robinson, Knute Rockne, Max Factor, Johnny Weissmuller, Bob Hope, Samuel Goldwyn, Igor Sikorsky, Jule Styne, Elia Kazan, Marcus Garvey, Rudolph Valentino, Lee Strasberg, Claudette Colbert – and the grandfather of Arthur Tauck Jr, who emigrated from Germany to the United States through Ellis Island in the late 1800s. Tonight, you will join us in that same Great Hall for a very special farewell dinner, complete with dancing and live music by Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks, an 11-piece New York jazz band featured on the soundtracks of many period films and television shows including Boardwalk Empire, Revolutionary Road, Carol, Café Society and the 2017 series about Zelda Fitzgerald – Z: The Beginning of Everything. Return to Battery Park by ferry, with spectacular views of Manhattan illuminated at night, and then on to the Plaza.