For natives and tourists alike, Christmas in New York is Rockefeller Center. It’s the sixty-foot tree, of course, that draws us, set like a tiara over the ice-skating rink and in front of the tall, strict column of 30 Rockefeller Plaza.
Our offices used to be in an adjoining Rockefeller Center building that offered us an inspiring vista of the tree and the surrounding urban night. Since then we’ve been resigned to Everyman’s view, a neck stretch up from the crowded, chilly streets. Until a breakthrough discovery, that is. You heard it here first. The best place to watch the tree, the skaters, and the weather of a Christmas season at twilight is from the front central windows of Saks Fifth Avenue, which has stood directly across the street since 1924. For an excellent vantage try the tall windows on the second floor in the Donna Karan department. Another good spot is on four, near women’s suits. Climb farther, to the sixth-floor men’s department, and the perspective expands.
The first Rockefeller Center tree was set in place in 1931, in the midst of a muddy construction site, by workers who were certainly thankful to be employed. The tree as tradition began in 1933, and the lights have gone on again every Christmas since.