​Almanac: Radio City Music Hall

And now a page from our "Sunday Morning" Almanac: December 27th, 1932, 83 years ago today ... the day the curtain went up on a NEW New York City attraction.

It was opening day for the Radio City Music Hall, the world's biggest moti0n picture theater, part of the new Rockefeller Center personally financed by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., during the Great Depression.

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Under the guiding hand of impresario Samuel "Roxy" Rothafel, the Radio City Music Hall was launched as a theater like no other. It's an Art Deco gem with nearly 6,000 seats facing a huge proscenium arch that resembles a setting sun.


Murals, statues and other artworks grace the Grand Foyer and lounges.

All in all, the perfect setting for the annual Christmas Spectacular, which the Rockettes helped to kick off in 1933.

Our Bill Geist got a close-up look at the Spectacular in all its dizzying frenzy when he went backstage in 2001:

"They call it the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, and that may be an understatement.

"Running the complex stage elevator system is like captaining a nuclear submarine. Skaters go up ... Rockettes as rag dolls come down ... and within minutes, go back up as reindeer."

Declared a New York City landmark in 1978, and renovated in 1999, Radio City Music Hall more than lives up to Roxy Rothafel's guiding principle: "Don't give people what they want -- Give them something BETTER!"

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The stage of Radio City Music Hall. CBS News


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