Christmas in America: New York

New York, NY

Rockefeller Center Plaza, New York

The Norway spruce aglow at Rockefeller Center Plaza, New York. The tallest tree on record was from Killingworth, Connecticut, and stood for the 1999 season a hundred feet high.

The huge Norway spruce at Rockefeller Center Plaza, of course. Up to 100 feet tall, now with thirty thousands of lights, the tree is the place for gleeful children, romantic couples, or you and a camera. The idea of erecting a giant tree amongst the buildings of mid-town Manhattan and setting it ablaze with fairy lights may seem rather postmodern, but in fact the tradition dates to the Great Depression. Get there before 11:30pm, or 9pm after Christmas, when the lights switch off. The star on top, called the “Swarovski Star” after the cut crystal company, measures almost three metres in diameter and weighs 250kg.

Location: Fifth to Sixth Aves & 48th to 51st Sts
Transport: B/D/F/M to 47th-50th Sts-Rockefeller Center

And … don’t forget the elves!

elf feetIt wouldn’t be America if the holiday spirit weren’t for sale somewhere. Visit the Christmas wonderland that is Macy’s SantaLand, where outsized lollipops grow naturally, every light twinkles, and the holiday elf is given seasonal employment alongside recent university graduates. If you can’t make it to SantaLand — and I can’t imagine why you couldn’t — why not hear David Sedaris talk about his stint as one of the SantaLand elves in ‘The SantaLand Diaries’. The essay was originally broadcast in 1992 on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition.

Travelling to America? Start here.

There’s no better place than the 2AD Memorial Library to find American travel guides. We have books on all fifty states, often several for each state, as well as guides for major U.S. cities. Our collection of oversized photography books is a great place to start planning.

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