By James Gordon
For more than 80 years, people from around the world have flocked to see the dazzling lights of the Christmas tree at New York's Rockefeller Center. The first time New Yorkers put up a Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center was in 1931.
The Depression-era workmen building the center were so grateful to have jobs that they decorated a spruce tree with strings of cranberries, paper garlands, and a few tin cans. 82 years later, the tree stands almost 80 feet tall, is fitted with 45,000 LED lights and weighs 12 tons.
A New York institution now in its 82nd year, some 40,000 LED lights (all energy efficient) on five miles of wire are wrapped around a giant Norway spruce.
Live broadcasts of the event began in 1946, according to NBC, and as the decorations have become more elaborate over the years, so has the lighting ceremony.
Millions come to see the spectacle each season, just as they have been doing for generations.
The holiday season has well and truly begun!
Lights on! Weighing 12 ton, standing 9.5 foot wide, almost 80 foot tall and travelling 70 miles from Connecticut, this year's tree certainly impressed the masses that turned out for the traditional lighting ceremony
How it all began: Construction workers line up for pay beside the first Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in New York in 1931. St. Patrick's Cathedral is visible in the background on Fifth Avenue
Tradition: With a flick of the switch, a 76-foot Norway Spruce from Connecticut officially became the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree on Wednesday night, in a ceremony that's been held since 1933
Hark the herald angels sing: Some 45,000 energy efficient LED lights adorn the 76-foot tree (seen in the background) while angels made of wire and lights frame the Rockefeller Center
Getting bigger: Just three years in and this was the Christmas tree on the Plaza in 1934
The way it was: No ice rink and no crowds in 1934. New York looks positively peaceful!
The tree in 1934: 79 years ago the tree was down in the pit where the ice rink is located
Star attraction: Swarovski has provided the star for the top of the tree for 10 years. These pictures show how the tree appeared in 2004
Variety: Christmas trees in Rockefeller Center have ranged from 50-foot Pines to 100-foot Norway Spruces, Rockefeller Center says, the largest of Rockefeller Center¿s trees was the 100-year-old, 100-foot-tall, ten-ton Norway Spruce erected in 1999
Christmas Shopper: New York's Rockefeller Center is decked out for Christmas-and so is actress-singer Liza Minnelli, newly overwhelmed by Christmas packages in 1970
December 1967: Hundreds gather to watch the lighting of the giant Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. In the foreground is part of the decorations in the center's promenade
The fifties: All the ingredients common to Christmas time in New York; Santa Claus, a Salvation Army Cadet and the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, a must for tourists
How it was in 1989: What started as a seemingly simple gesture of celebration during one of the roughest times in the nation's history turned into a symbol of the start of the Christmas season in NYC
Angel of mine: Glittering angels lining the promenade at Rockefeller Center frame more of the celestials brightly ornamenting the facade of Saks Fifth Avenue, across the street. Many such elaborate Christmas decorations along fashionable Fifth Avenue have turned it into a wonderland of light.
Santa's coming to down: Santa Claus skates with some children at the Rockefeller Center rink in 1981
Sent from above: An angel decoration, illuminated at night during the holiday season, in the Angel Garden at Rockefeller Center in 1995
The set-up: Rockefeller Center's 1952 Christmas tree (above), an 85-foot Norway spruce, is jockeyed into position under the watchful eyes of a trio of interested youngsters at Rockefeller Center Plaza. (Below) in 2007, the Swarovski star is placed atop the mighty tree
Sliding around the Christmas tree: Ice skaters skate near the large Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in New York City - this was in 1995
The trees of Christmas past: Shoppers and tourists ice skate in Rockefeller Center during the Christmas holidays
The iconic tree: To find the perfect, seven-story spruce each year, Rockefeller Center conducts aerial searches by helicopter
Grand entrance: The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree as seen through a row of lighted angels in the Center's garden. In 2004 the tree was a 71-foot high Norway spruce
Ceremonial switch on: Skaters skate through patterns of light below the statue of Prometheus, during the 2004 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting ceremony
The iconic Christmas scene: Illuminated and decorated Rockefeller center with snow capped ice rink, before Christmas in 2002
Blowing their own trumpet: Spurred by the growing environmental movement, Rockefeller Center recycled its first Christmas tree in 1971, turning it into 30 three-bushel bags of mulch for the nature trails of upper Manhattan
Shining bright: Illuminated and decorated Rockefeller center, before Christmas in 2002
A familiar sight: The traditional tree is raised into place by crane in Rockefeller Center Plaza. It was an 85 foot Norway Spruce in 1961
Energy efficient: The 75th tree marked the start of a new eco-friendly tradition in 2007. It was cut down with a two-person handsaw, and illuminated by 30,000 LEDs that used a fraction of the energy of normal bulbs
Chopped: In 2005, Habitat for Humanity used the heartwood to make doorframes for houses for the needy; and last year, about 15 percent of the tree went into making paper for a book called The Carpenter's Gift
Institution: The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree stands lit during the 80th annual lighting ceremony in New York in November 2012
Ever-green: Since 2007, the spruce has been lit with 30,000 energy-efficient LEDs, which are powered by solar panels. Of course, the panels work best when it¿s sunny outside, so during New York City¿s cold, dark winters, they¿re mostly decorative, too
Symbol of Christmas: The Christmas tree beneath the soaring towers of Rockefeller Center in 2011
30 Rock in 2001: Then First lady Laura Bush and New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani had the honor of lighting the tree during the 69th Rockefeller Christmas Tree lighting ceremony
Golden angels: Illuminated angels--in Channel Gardens at Rockefeller Center frame brightly lit annual Christmas Tree in 1980
Home for the holidays: Overlooking Rockefeller Center with fountains and a lighted Christmas tree in the plaza and rooftop gardens and pools, New York City
Shining beacon: A Christmastime view of Rockefeller Center, showing the roof gardens on the buildings and the Christmas tree in the plaza in 1990
Christmas spirit: Skater's whiz by at Rockefeller Center in front of the General Electric Building at Rockefeller Plaza, during the 72nd Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in 2004
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas: The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree stands lit in front of the General Electric building in New York's Rockefeller Plaza, in 2003
Whizzing around: Skaters in the Rockefeller Center during the Holidays in 2011
What a sight! Usually the tree comes from New Jersey or Connecticut. The farthest distance a tree has ever traveled was approximately 518 miles - from Ottawa, Canada
Time after time: The first nationally televised Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting was in 1951 on the 'Kate Smith Show'
Tree laid bare: Workers install the new Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in 2010
Fascinating fact: It takes two dozen electricians on scaffolding to decorate the branches with 30,000 lights attached to five miles of wire
Looking back: The tradition of the tree began in the Great Depression during the construction of the Rockefeller Center complex in 1931. The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree tradition formally began in 1933 when a tree was strung with 700 lights
Loud and proud: The 76th annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree stands after the lighting ceremony in New York City in 2008
As it ever was: The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree stands lit in front of the General Electric building, as people skate on the ice in New York's Rockefeller Plaza in December 2005.
Shining brightly: The lights of the 73rd Annual Rockefeller Center Christmas tree following the lighting ceremony in November 2005. The event marks the beginning of the holiday season in New York City each year
'Tis the season: The desired dimension for a Rockefeller Center Norway spruce is a minimum of 65 feet tall and 35 feet wide. A tree smaller than that will only be considered as a future candidate
The tree in 2006: After the tree is cut, the head gardener for Rockefeller Center counts the stump rings to get a more accurate measure of its age. A Norway spruce typically lives about as long as a human, from 80 to 100 years
Top of the tree: The Rockefeller Center Gardens manager is always looking for the perfect tree. The top annual selections are flown over, critically inspected and the best tree picked. This was the selection in 2007