Art Nerd New York | Los Angeles

The History of Transportation in gorgeous crimson and gold

The often missed lobby of 10 Rockefeller may be directly next to the Today Show concerts, but for some reason it is totally under the radar- which is a shame because it boasts one of the most beautiful murals I’ve ever seen (actually three murals, called Night Flight, New World Unity and Day Flight). Honoring the building’s tenant in 1946, Eastern Airlines, the Rockefellers commissioned popular illustrator and muralist Dean Cornwell to create a vision of transportation, ending with airline travel of course (even though he is relatively unknown now, his illustrations were already wildly popular in Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Redbook, Good Housekeeping and the like. During his time, Cornwell was as popular as Norman Rockwell!).

The History of Transportation takes viewers on a visual chronological journey of man’s conquest to travel on land, sea and air. In gorgeous crimson, gold and silver, Cornwell’s mural unfolds in allegorical ornamentation. Two classical goddesses welcome visitors in the central panel, while horse and buggies, steam engines, Wrights Brothers Era planes, automobiles, paddle boats, double decker planes (which had not been invented yet) and even DaVinci’s flying machine swirl around plumes of smoke.

10 Rock may not have the amenities that tourists look for, but the lobby is open to the public, and well worth a visit to enjoy this immense mural. The lobby itself reflects the Art Deco style of the original buildings, and leads downstairs to the connecting concourse with a brassy staircase, labeled with early neon light up signs that list amenities that the building had in the 1940s.

Who: Dean Cornwell

What: The History of Transportation

Where: 10 Rockefeller Plaza main lobby


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