How to See the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

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How to See the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

Weather: Clouds gradually clear off, but there’ll be a stiff wind. High in the mid-40s.

Alternate-side parking: In effect until Tuesday (Immaculate Conception).


In an ordinary holiday season, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree draws about 750,000 visitors a day, the city’s tourism agency, NYC & Company, says.

But the pandemic means that Midtown Manhattan is devoid of its usual crowds.

This year’s evergreen has already had a tough time. The 75-foot, 11-ton Norway spruce appeared unusually scraggly to many social media users when it was unveiled last month, making it seem like a perfect metaphor for 2020.

[About that maligned Christmas tree (and that owl) at Rockefeller Center.]

A managing director at Tishman Speyer, the real estate firm that owns Rockefeller Center, told one of my colleagues that such criticism was misplaced and that the tree was merely displaying the arboreal equivalent of hat hair. Workers had wrapped it tightly before driving it to Manhattan from upstate Oneonta.

The tree will certainly appear more festive when it is lit. Here’s what you need to know about seeing the spruce, according to Rockefeller Center:

The ceremony starts at 8 o’clock tonight; the tree will be lit at 9:45 p.m. Spectators cannot attend the event, but it will be broadcast live on NBC.

Through early January, the tree will be open to visitors daily between 6 a.m. and midnight. It is open for 24 hours on Christmas, and on New Year’s Eve the visiting hours are from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

To gain access to the viewing areas, starting on Thursday, visitors can use a phone to scan QR codes posted near Rockefeller Center. They will get a text message with an estimated wait time and will be told when to return to view the tree.

Viewing areas will be on 49th and 50th Streets, and will be accessible from those streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Center Plaza, where the tree is set up, is closed to the public. The Rockefeller Center website has a map.

Face masks and social distancing are mandatory, and visitors must stand on social-distancing markers in groups of four at most. There is a five-minute limit for viewing.

After the spruce arrived in Manhattan, workers discovered a saw-whet owl in its boughs. The bird, which became a social media sensation, was rehabilitated at a wildlife center in Saugerties, N.Y., and released back into the wild last week.

The tree’s days in the wild are, of course, over. It will become lumber for Habitat of Humanity.


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Want more news? Check out our full coverage.

The Mini Crossword: Here is today’s puzzle.


In the Bronx, injuries to cyclists are up more than 45 percent compared to the same period last year. [Streetsblog]

A man who fell into an underground vault teeming with rats is suing New York City and a landlord. [NBC New York]

A 102-year-old woman from Westchester County has survived two coronavirus infections — and the 1918 flu pandemic. [PIX11]


Sydney Franklin writes:

The core benefits of co-living took a big hit when the coronavirus struck New York City.

Instagram-friendly common rooms and co-working spaces sat empty last spring as residents complied with strict lockdown orders. Postage-stamp bedrooms became constant quarters. Tenants who had become accustomed to regular cleaning services suddenly had to disinfect on their own.

When New Yorkers fled the city in the early months of the pandemic, co-living companies lost tenants and income. Their model, which includes perks like helping residents find roommates and providing fully furnished units, was no match for the virus. Co-living buildings have generally charged more than traditional rental buildings, in exchange for shared amenities and a dormlike atmosphere that provides instant community — an environment deeply challenged by the rules of coronavirus lockdown.

After the initial shock, most co-living companies coalesced around a few strategies to woo residents back. They offered rent concessions, promoted flexible lease lengths and provided a smooth and easy move-in process. And despite social distancing, companies and residents have found new, pandemic-appropriate ways to build connections within buildings.

Now co-living companies say demand is growing again.

In August, Jorge Hurtado-Burgos, 21, was looking for an easy transition into an apartment after a summer of couch surfing. He chose a four-bedroom shared unit in an East Village apartment.

“It was very straight to the point and easy,” he said.

It’s Wednesday — be flexible.


Dear Diary:

I was working construction as a carpenter in Manhattan. Every morning before work I would stop at the same deli for coffee and a bagel. I liked the deli because you could make your own coffee there.

At one point, I stopped working for about three weeks. When I returned to the job, I resumed my daily routine of stopping at the deli.

My first day back, I ordered my bagel and then started to make my coffee. It felt to me like the cups were slightly smaller than they had been. When I went to pay, I said so to the woman at the counter.

“Maybe your hand got bigger,” she said.

— John Ioveno


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