Board Considering Landmark Status for Rainbow Room Said ‘No’ Once Before

This isn’t exactly déjà vu all over again, but it is probably worth nothing that the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission — which last week took the first step toward designating the Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center an interior landmark — has said no to the idea before.

That was in 1998, according to the commission’s files. The commission’s director of research at the time concluded that the “current interior space was largely created by architect Hugh Hardy in 1987, interpreting the Art Deco spirit in contemporary form.”

That did not meet “the criteria for designation in regard to age,” which state that  potential landmarks must be at least 30 years old.

Time flies, but not that fast: 1987 was only 25 years ago, and the commission’s rules have not changed. But the commission now says that elements of the Rainbow Room are old  enough to make it eligible for consideration. After all, the Rainbow Room opened on Oct. 3, 1934, not quite 78 years ago.

“Our most recent evaluation involved a careful analysis of the original features and those that were restored as part of the 1980s renovation,” Elisabeth de Bourbon, a spokeswoman for the commission, said by e-mail last week. “We determined that the historic room configuration and remaining original features meet the commission’s age requirements.”

The 1998 letter turning down the idea of landmark designation was addressed to Lee Presser, who said last week that he had had no real connection to the Rainbow Room in 1998 and did not remember seeking the designation.

“I had friends who worked at the Rainbow Room,” he said. “It’s conceivable I did it, but I don’t even remember it.”

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