Tour of UN Headquarters in New York
The United Nations Headquarters is located on an 18-acre site along the East River in New York City. Home to the international organization, The United Nations, the striking glass-fronted “Secretariat” building dominates the New York midtown skyline. The building, which opened in 1951, was instantly popular with tourists and continues to be one of the most popular destinations in New York City.
The United Nations was formed at the end of World War II to replace the ineffective and limited League of Nations. Promoted by the Allies of WW II – France, Russia, France, and the US, the United Nations came into being in 1945 with 51 member nations. Today, the organization includes virtually all of the world’s sovereign nations. Only Vatican City, Palestine, the Cook Islands, and Taiwan are not members. (The Vatican has official observer status.)
The United Nations is made up of several administrative bodies, including the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, and the International Court of Justice. In addition, there are interdisciplinary agencies, such as WHO (World Hunger Organization), UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund), the World Bank, and the IMF (International Monetary Fund). It is these humanitarian agencies as well as the UN’s power to deploy peacekeeping forces, which have helped the organization succeed where the League of Nations could not.
The Headquarters Complex
The UN Headquarters building was completed in 1950 and opened on January 1, 1951. The complex sits on an 18-acre site along the East River between 42nd and 48th Sts. The land for the United Nations complex was purchased using an $8.5 million donation from John D. Rockefeller Jr. The United Nations is an international territory belonging to the member nations, not a part of the United States, and the complex has its own security force, fire-fighting department, and postal service.
The most striking building — called the Secretariat — was designed by an international team of architects, including the Frenchman, Le Corbusier; Brazilian Oscar Niemeyer; and the American architectural firm of Harrison and Abramovitz. The striking glass-sided building stands 505 feet tall and has 39 floors. The narrow ends are constructed of white marble. The front of the building sports a flagged court, displaying the flags of all of the UN member nations.
Today, the United Nations headquarters complex employs over 4500 staff members from 200 countries.
Visiting the United Nations
The United Nations Headquarters building is one of the most visited sites in New York City. Over 37 million visitors have toured the building since it opened in 1951. The complex is easily accessible via subway, bus, and taxi from all over the New York area. Driving is discouraged, as the complex does not have a public parking lot.
Visitors are welcome to browse through the changing exhibits in the lobby at no charge. Exhibits cover a wide range of topics having to do with the UN’s missions. In addition to the lobby exhibits, visitors may take a guided tour of the main Headquarters building. Tours include the UN’s extensive art collection, comprised of donations from the member nations; the delegation meeting rooms; and the General Assembly Hall. The tour ends at the UN postage Centre. After the tour, visitors can browse the gift store, and UN bookshop, and relax in the coffee shop, before departing.
Tours are offered every day except for holidays and days when the UN is hosting special events or conferences. The tour is not suitable for children under 5 years of age. Please note that the UN is a non-smoking facility.
Location: First Avenue at 46th Street, New York City, New York
Phone: 212 963-8687
Click here to visit United Nations Headquarters’ official website.