NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 8, 2001--When Radio City Music Hall opened its doors in 1932, the New York Times acclaimed it "the greatest achievement of the theatrical world." Popular Mechanics called it a "hall of a thousand illusions." This innovative stage has been the home of the world-famous Radio City Rockettes. Now adding to the accolades of this world-famous entertainment center, The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME International) has designated the hydraulically actuated stage a historic mechanical engineering landmark. A ceremony commemorating the designation will be held on Monday, Nov. 12, at 9 a.m. at Radio City Music Hall.
Built in 1932 by Peter Clark, an internationally known theatrical engineer, its innovative elevator system was a forerunner for other stage designs (including the Metropolitan Opera House) as well as aircraft carrier systems built during World War II.
The movable parts of the world's largest indoor stage consist of three 70-foot-wide sections, each an elevator platform able to descend 27 feet below stage level and rise 13 feet above it. The orchestra "pit" is a fourth elevator with similar mobility. A pair of (water) hydraulic cylinders move each platform independently. Cut into the three stage elevators is a 43-foot turntable able to revolve 360 degrees, creating yet another dimension to the dynamics of the presentation.
For 69 years, the Radio City Music Hall stage has played a premier role in entertaining more than 300 million people with movies, concerts, special events and America's #1 live theatrical, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the world-famous Rockettes.
To commemorate the mechanical engineering landmark designation, William A. Weiblen, president of ASME International, will present a bronze landmark plaque to John Urban, senior vice president, Radio City Entertainment and general manager of Radio City Music Hall. At a later date, the plaque will be permanently mounted near the hydraulic mechanisms of the stage along the legendary theater's backstage tour route.
"For a moment, let us look beyond the stars, musicians and dancers that dazzle us on the stage, to acknowledge the backstage choreography. The precision `choreographed' staging of Radio City Music Hall offers size and versatility, unlike any other. The stage represents the best of engineering excellence," said Weiblen.
Since its inception in 1972, ASME International's History and Heritage Program has designated 217 historical mechanical engineering landmarks, heritage collections or heritage sites. Each selection represents contributions made by the technological advances of mechanical engineering and their impact on the quality of life.
The 125,000-member ASME International is focused on the technical, educational and research issues affecting mechanical engineers and the engineering professions. ASME conducts one of the world's largest technical publishing operations, holds numerous technical conferences worldwide, and offers hundreds of professional development courses each year. ASME sets internationally recognized industrial and manufacturing codes and standards that enhance public welfare and safety.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Members of the press are cordially invited to the ceremony that begins promptly at 9 a.m. (Nov. 12). Interviews and press material will be available on site. To gain admittance, media identification must be presented at Radio City Music Hall's main ticket lobby entrance at Sixth Avenue (between 50th and 51st street).
ASME International Mel Torre, 212/591-8157 E-mail: Email Contact Online: www.asme.org