Location: 45 Rockefeller Plaza
Overlooking Fifth Avenue in its imposing stance, the Atlas statue guards the front of 45 Rockefeller Center. Roadside tourists often stop in their tracks to marvel at the bronze figure holding up a cluster of rings encircled within one another. Others sit at tables positioned around the monument to eat their meals purchased from surrounding shops and food trucks in the plaza. However, Atlas portrays a scene of struggle that juxtaposes the ambient ruckus of the New York street and city life.
The 45-foot statue stands as the tallest sculpture at Rockefeller Center. Designed by architect Lee Lawrie and created by sculptor Rene Chambellan, Atlas’ strained expression indicates the effort with which he holds up the weight of humanity.
In Ancient Greek mythology, the titan Atlas serves a divine punishment of eternally carrying the weight of the world in his hands. The statue in New York City preserves his legendary strength and powerful physique, but he holds an abstract, spherical representation of the cosmos rather than a traditional globe.
“The symbolism behind it, the meaning of the universe and all…it’s an awesome statue,” a local Rockefeller Center staff member said.