View from the Rainbow Room

Water Bottles at the Rainbow Room

I shot an event one of the event spaces at the Rainbow Room on the 64th floor at Rockefeller Center last Friday night. The whole place has the feeling of past opulence that has gone to seed. Everything seems like it was totally posh in, say, the fifties, but hasn’t been upgraded since. The wallpaper is faded, the doorways scuffed and dented from years of bus-carts bashing into them … overall the place just seemed worn out and sad.

One of the most distinctive features that I noticed was the sash-style windows. Clearly at some point these windows would have had the ability to open, but they have since been covered by solid glass. Rather than removing the now useless sashes completely, they have been left, I guess as an architectural homage to the original design. The overall effect of these window treatments is that they highlight how old everything is, and in many of my shots the windows in the background resemble warehouse windows rather than a high-end ballroom. This is made even more apparent when I watched the staff tugging on old school spring-recoil window blinds. Did those things ever work, even when they were new? I remember struggling with those as a kid at my parent’s house. Add on to that the fact that the sashes are all crooked and are layered with peeling paint.

At one point the wait staff was running around the room pouring water for everyone…chic chic bottled water no less; after all, this is a high class establishment. One of the waiters set a tray of perspiring bottles on the windowsill right in front of the Empire State Building 20 blocks south. I grabbed the shot above which over the last few days has really grown on me.

The room itself may be kind of busted, but you can’t beat seeing New York from 700 feet in the air…

Empire State Building

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