1. In 1931, the first tree was put up unofficially as something of a Depression-era fairy tale
A group of workers responsible for the early construction phases of Rockefeller Center raised the tree to celebrate the fact that, unlike most of America, they actually had a way to pay the bills. They decorated the 20ft balsam fir with cranberries, paper garlands, and a few tin cans. A clerk distributed their paychecks from the foot of the tree later that night.
2. The first "official" tree though went up in 1933
A publicist organized the first tree-lighting ceremony. A 50ft pine decorated with 700 lights stood in front of the RCA Building, then eight months old.
3. The tree is super patriotic
In 1942 three small trees -- each decorated in one of the flag’s colors -- were presented in support of the country’s efforts in World War II. In 1944, because of wartime regulations, the tree went unlit. And in 2001, the tree was decorated in red, white, and blue as the US was still reeling from the 9/11 attacks.
4. The tree lighting ceremony was first televised in 1951
It made its debut on The Kate Smith Show hosted by the “first lady of radio” before moving to the iconic children’s program Howdy Doody. Now broadcast on NBC, the ceremony has featured the likes of Bob Hope, Barbara Walters, Liza Minnelli, Sheryl Crow, Bette Midler, Billy Crystal, and Mariah Carey.