Atlas (statue)

Coordinates: 40°45′32.12″N 73°58′37.84″W / 40.7589222°N 73.9771778°W / 40.7589222; -73.9771778
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40°45′32.12″N 73°58′37.84″W / 40.7589222°N 73.9771778°W / 40.7589222; -73.9771778

ArtistLee Lawrie
Year1937 (1937)
Dimensions14 m (45 ft)
LocationNew York City
Bronze Atlas statue, depicting Atlas the titan in Ancient Greek mythology, bent over holding up a wire sphere representing Earth. Located at Rockefeller Center, seen from below.
Atlas statue located at Rockefeller Center

Atlas is a bronze statue in Rockefeller Center, within the International Building's courtyard, in Midtown Manhattan in New York City. It is across Fifth Avenue from St. Patrick's Cathedral. The sculpture depicts the ancient Greek Titan Atlas holding the heavens on his shoulders.[1]

Atlas was created by the sculptor Lee Lawrie with the help of Rene Paul Chambellan[2] and was installed in 1937.[3] The sculpture is in the Art Deco style of Rockefeller Center. The figure of Atlas in the sculpture is 15 feet (4.6 m) tall, while the entire statue is 45 feet (14 m) tall.[4][5] It weighs 14,000 pounds (6,400 kg),[6] and is the largest sculpture at Rockefeller Center.[7]

Atlas is depicted carrying the celestial vault on his shoulders.[1][2][8] The north-south axis of the armillary sphere on his shoulders points towards the North Star's position relative to New York City.[9] The statue stands on one muscular leg atop a small stone pedestal, whose corner faces Fifth Avenue.[2]

In popular culture[edit]

The piece has since been appropriated as a symbol of the Objectivist movement[10] and has been associated with Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged (1957).

It has been featured in almost every episode of the television series 30 Rock, appearing in numerous establishing shots depicting the 30 Rockefeller Plaza building, where the series is set. Most Rainforest Cafe locations have a statue resembling this one in a waterfall with a fountain, with the words "Rescue the Rainforest" in green neon letters across the equator of the globe.[11]

Ridley Scott has cited the sculpture as the aesthetic inspiration for the character "Mother," on HBO Max's Raised by Wolves.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Krinsky, Carol H. (1978). Rockefeller Center. Oxford University Press. p. 151. ISBN 978-0-19-502404-3.
  2. ^ a b c Roussel, Christine (May 17, 2006). The Art of Rockefeller Center. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. p. 113. ISBN 978-0-3930-6082-9.
  3. ^ "New Sculpture Shown" (PDF). The New York Times. 1937-09-12. Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  4. ^ "Examples of Art Deco in New York City". Archived from the original on 2010-01-08.
  5. ^ "Atlas sculpture by Lee Lawrie". Archived from the original on 2010-08-26.
  6. ^ Dunlap, David W. (2008-05-04). "Bringing a Smile (Well, a Shine) to a Burdened Statue of Atlas". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-25.
  7. ^ "Atlas (Statue in New York)". Archived from the original on 2009-12-01.
  8. ^ Adams, Janet (1985). "Rockefeller Center Designation Report" (PDF). City of New York; New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. p. 151. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-11-07. Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  9. ^ "Art: Rockefeller Atlas". Time. 1937-01-11. Archived from the original on May 1, 2011. Retrieved 2010-04-25.
  10. ^ "History of Atlas Shrugged". Ayn Rand Institute. Archived from the original on February 10, 2014. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
  11. ^ "Rainforest Cafe". Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  12. ^ "Raised by Wolves: Ridley Scott and Aaron Guzikowski Talk Parenting on a New Planet". September 2020.

External links[edit]