The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree has stood tall in the heart of New York City ever since the first one was hoisted into place in the 1930s.
For the past three decades, the famed tree has been found by Rockefeller Center head gardener Erik Pauze, who started working as a summer helper at Rockefeller Center in 1988.
In an interview with Rockefeller Center's online outlet The Center Magazine, Pauze revealed what he looks for when he's searching for a tree.
"What I look for is a tree you would want in your living room, but on a grander scale," he said. "It’s got that nice, perfect shape all around. And most of all, it’s gotta look good for those kids who turn the corner at 30 Rock; it needs to instantly put a huge smile on their faces. It needs to evoke that feeling of happiness."
This year, Pauze found the Rockefeller Center tree in Vestal, New York, when he was on his way back from looking at another tree.
"I had driven to the other tree and took a slow road back, and saw this one…," he said. "I went back this spring and decided to knock… The McGinley family told me that not too long before I knocked on the door, someone told them, 'That looks like a Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.'"
That person was right. The McGinley's tree is now being decorated in Rockefeller Center, and on Nov. 29, the annual tree lighting ceremony will be held.
Read on to learn the history of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.
1931: The beginning of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree
In 1931, workers at Rockefeller Center pooled their money together to buy a 20-foot balsam fir, which they decorated with handmade garlands made by their families.
This photo was taken on Christmas Eve and it shows a clerk giving workers their paychecks.
1933: The very first tree lighting ceremony is held
In 1933, the first tree lighting ceremony was held in Rockefeller Center, which marked the beginning of a new tradition.
According to Thrillist, the tree that year was a 50-foot pine, which was decorated with 700 lights.
1942: World War II inspires new designs
During World War II, Rockefeller Center decided to use patriotic designs to decorate their tree.
In 1942, Rockefeller Center erected three small trees, instead of one large one, which were all decorated in red, white and blue colors. However, the trees remained unlit due to blackout regulations, and it stayed that way for each Rockefeller Center Christmas tree until after the war.
1999: Rockefeller Center sees its largest tree to date
In 1999, Rockefeller Center erected its largest tree to date. The record-setting tree came from Killingworth, Connecticut, and it stood 100 feet tall. How’s that for Christmas cheer?
Pauze told The Center Magazine that transporting Rockefeller Center Christmas trees is not an easy feat.
“Moving the Tree is an operation in and of itself that can take months to plan and execute — from wrapping each branch of the Tree so it doesn’t bend or snap to compressing the width down so it’s fit for travel (to Rockefeller Center),” he said.
2001: Patriotic designs are used again on the tree
After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Rockefeller Center decided to decorate its tree in red, white and blue.
2004: The Rockefeller Christmas tree gets a massive Swarovski star
In 2004, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was topped with a 550-pound Swarovski star that featured 25,000 crystals and 1 million facets.
Just when it didn't seem possible, this star made the tree look even more gorgeous than it was before.
2018: A new Swarovski star is made for the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree
Despite the beauty of the original Swarovski star, another one was made for the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in 2018.
This one was designed by famed architect Daniel Libeskind and it featured 3 million Swarovski crystals, 70 triangular spikes and was backlit by LEDs.
2023: What to expect from this year's Rockefeller Center Christmas tree
This year, Pauze found an 80-foot-tall Norway spruce in Vestal, New York.
“It’s so tall, and it has the perfect shape. I knew when I saw it that it was going to work…," Pauze told The Center Magazine. "I just had to trim the branches up to 5 or 6 feet. It’s a nice shaped tree, and it looks beautiful. When you stand in the street, and look at it against the blue sky, it really looks awesome."
In November, the tree made a nearly 200-mile journey from upstate New York to Rockefeller Center.
The tree will be decorated with more than 50,000 multi-colored LED lights, and a Swarovski crystal star will be the cherry on top. It will all be on full display starting Nov. 29, the night of the Rockefeller Center tree lighting ceremony.