United Nations

The United Nations is one of the world’s most famous organizations. Founded in 1945, it replaced the League of Nations. Since its founding, the main purpose of the United Nations has been to stop wars between countries and to facilitate dialogue between nations. Essentially, the organization’s overall aim is to foster world peace. The League of Nations had similar goals, but its inability to prevent World War II ultimately led to its demise. Today, the United Nations has nearly 200 Member States and maintains offices around the world. Its headquarters occupy an 18-acre waterfront site on the East Side of Manhattan. This site, it should be noted, is an international zone that belongs to all Member States.

United Nations History

United Nations History
United Nations History  Image: Andre-Pierre (flickr)

In 1942, representatives from 26 different nations made pledges stating that their governments would continue the fight against the Axis Powers. US President Franklin D. Roosevelt had already coined the name "United Nations" as a reference to the Allied countries. This name was officially used for the first time on January 1, 1942. In 1945, a total of 50 governments met in San Francisco to begin drafting what would become the United Nations Charter. The organization officially came into existence on October 24, 1945 after being ratified by the then-permanent members of what was known as the Security Council. These member countries were the United States, the United Kingdom, France, the Republic of China, and the Soviet Union. Also ratifying the United Nations were the majority of the other 46 countries that met in San Francisco. Today, the organization has a total of 193 Member States. In addition to its headquarters in New York City, the United Nations has main offices in other destinations around the world, including Geneva, Nairobi, and Vienna.

History of United Nations Headquarters & Structures

History of United Nations Headquarters & Structures
History of United Nations Headquarters & Structures  Image: Qtea (flickr)

The cornerstone for the United Nations Headquarters in New York City was laid on October 24, 1949. The land that came to be used for the site was purchased by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who then donated the land to the city. The chief architect and director of planning for the construction of the United Nations Headquarters was the personal architectural adviser for the Rockefeller family, Wallace K. Harrison. Aiding him in the planning and construction process was a multi-national team of leading architects. The initial UN Headquarters buildings were finished by 1952. Other buildings were added to the complex later, with an example being the Dag Hammarskjold Building, which was added in 1961. Complementing the buildings at the United Nations Headquarters complex are gardens and outdoor sculptures. Among the sculptures is a statue of a Colt Python revolver that has its barrel tied. A more appropriate image there could hardly be considering the UN’s dedication to maintaining world peace. As a side note, several buildings that are found outside of the United Nations complex are also part of the headquarters. Among others, these buildings include the DC-1 and DC-2 office buildings at UN Plaza.

United Nations Headquarters Tickets & Tours

United Nations Headquarters Tickets & Tours
United Nations Headquarters Tickets & Tours  Image: hibino (flickr)

Should a tour of the United Nations Headquarters be something that you are looking to add to your list of things to do in New York City, you can take either a guided tour or a group audio tour. On these tours, visitors get a fantastic behind-the-scenes look at the organization. All United Nations Headquarters tours start in the Vistors Lobby and last between 45 minutes and an hour. Due to security reasons, children under the age of five are not permitted on the tours. The hours for the United Nations Headquarters tours vary according to day and season, and due to the complex’s role as an important international meeting center, short notice closings to the public are known to occur from time to time. Closings also occur on major holidays, such as Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Visitors can purchase advance tickets online or purchase them in person upon arrival at the complex. The complex suffered damage during the Hurricane Sandy superstorm in the fall of 2012. Although it was temporarily closed for tours, progress was not delayed in the renovation due to be complete in 2013.

Attractions and Hotels near United Nations Headquarters

Thanks to its location in Midtown Manhattan, the United Nations Headquarters enjoys proximity to a number of other great NYC attractions. It is also within easy reach of numerous NYC hotels. Among the closets major attractions of note are the soaring Chrysler Building and busy Grand Central Station. Further off, yet still within easy reach of the United Nations Headquarters are such other major attractions as the Empire State Building, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Rockefeller Plaza, Radio City Music Hall, and Times Square. The list doesn’t end there, and all things considered, you could certainly choose a worse area when searching for a New York City travel base. For those who wish to stay near the UN complex, there are plenty of Midtown Manhattan hotels to select from. None is closer to the site than the ONE UN New York. This comfortable hotel can actually be found directly across from the headquarters at UN Plaza. Other examples of hotels near the United Nations Headquarters include the Beekman Tower Hotel, The Alex, the Westin New York Grand Central, the Murray Hill East Suites, the Roger Smith Hotel, the New York Marriott East Side, the Best Western PLUS Hospitality House, and the economically-priced Seton Hotel.

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