Rockefeller Center

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See also Wikipedia's article about "Rockefeller Center".

Rockefeller Center was built on land owned by Columbia known as the Upper Estate.

NBC is here, as is a tiny but famous skating rink. You may have seen it on TV? Read about it in Catcher in the Rye?

Stay away! It's filled with endless lines of tourists hoping (futilely) to get on The Today Show or something.

Ayn Rand fans should watch out for the statue of Atlas on Fifth Avenue, directly opposite St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Columbia connection

Contrary to rumors that suggest otherwise, Rockefeller Center was not built atop what was Columbia's Midtown campus. Columbia's campus from the 1857 to the 1897 was indeed located in Midtown, but it was two blocks to the east, between Madison and Park Avenues.

Columbia did, however, own the land on which Rockefeller Center was developed, and continued to reap rents from it well into the 1980s, when it was sold to the Rockefellers, which provided seed funding for Columbia's endowment.

It is generally acknowledged that President Sovern made a good decision to sell Rockefeller Center for $400 million in February 1985. The volatile real-estate market for the next decade swung the value of the property to as low as $75 million, and it would not reach $400 million again until the late 1990s. In the meantime, with cash proceeds coming from the sale, Columbia's endowment portfolio grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17%. Compare that with the approximately $3-15 million in rent that Rockefeller Center generated yearly.

In an interesting twist, Jerry Speyer, a Columbia alum and former Trustee now owns Rockefeller Center through his company Tishman-Speyer.