Now it is official: The Rainbow Room, a personal landmark for New Yorkers who proposed there or dreamed of putting on their finest and dancing away the night there, is a city landmark.
The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission voted 7 to 0 on Tuesday to give interior landmark status to the 65th-floor space with the see-forever views at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan. Four of the 11 commissioners were absent.
“It’s everything that came to epitomize New York City,” said Robert B. Tierney, the commission’s chairman. “It retains not only many of its original characteristics, but also several generations of memories” — including, he said, some of his own. He also said the landmark designation would “assure several more generations of memories.”
The Rainbow Room is the city’s 115th interior landmark. The other 114 include well-known places like the lobby of the Empire State Building, but one of the commissioners, Frederick A. Bland, took special note of the Rainbow Room’s fame quotient. “I would say that of all the individual landmarks we’ve designated, this may be the one space that’s known throughout the world,” he said. (The roster of interior landmarks is separate from the city’s 1,318 exterior landmarks, one of which is the Rockefeller Center complex, designed in 1985.)
The Rainbow Room has been closed since 2009, when the landlord, Tishman Speyer Properties, evicted the Cipriani family, which had run the Rainbow Room since the late 1990s.
The application for the landmark designation was a leftover: The Ciprianis had submitted it, perhaps hoping to cause a regulatory headache for Tishman Speyer. Owners sometimes fight landmark designation because it can restrict the remodeling they can do — or, some landlords say, create delays while plans are reviewed for their faithfulness to a landmark’s original design. There is also an economic concern: Limiting the way a space can be altered can reduce the rent that can be charged.
But Tishman Speyer supported the Rainbow Room designation. At a hearing last month, so did the Historic Districts Council and the private Landmarks Conservancy.
The designation covers only the large, famous space on the 65th floor — not the smaller rooms on that floor or on the 64th floor that were long part of the restaurant operation. They were not deemed eligible for landmark status. The commission concluded that those spaces no longer had the design attributes or famous cultural associations of the Rainbow Room itself.