01/01/2011 - The Rockefeller Centre Christmas Tree
Although the official Christmas tree tradition at Rockefeller Center began in 1933 (the year the 30 Rockefeller Plaza opened), the unofficial tradition began during the Depression-era construction of Rockefeller Center, when workers decorated a smaller 20 foot balsam fir tree with "strings of cranberries, garlands of paper, and even a few tin cans" on Christmas Eve (December 24, 1931), as recounted by Daniel Okrent in his history of Rockefeller Center. Some accounts have the tree decorated with the tin foil ends of blasting caps. There was no Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in 1932.
The decorated Christmas tree remains lit at Rockefeller Center until the week after New Year's Day, when it is removed and recycled for a variety of uses. In 2007, the tree went "green," employing LED lights. After being taken down, the tree was used to furnish lumber for Habitat for Humanity house construction.