UN Building New York

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Lluis Enric Mayans

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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  • Where is the UN building
  • The history of the UN building and other buildings
  • How to reach us
  • Requirements to enter
  • To see
  • Guided tours (also in Spanish)
  • Eating and shopping at the UN

With its sparkling skyline, New York does not lack the opportunity to climb several skyscrapers from which you can admire the whole city from above. But if you are looking for a tourist attraction that also has a institutional value, you can't miss the famous UN Palace.

Known by the name of Glass Building of the United Nations Secretariat, is the headquarters of the organization and it is here that the UN Security Council and the General Assembly meet to discuss the great international disputes and promote respect for civil rights.

Some parts of the complex can be admired for free, however, to see the buildings and the various works of art internally, it is possible to take part in guided tours paid.

So let's try to learn more about the history of the UN Building, what wonders it hosts and how the guided tours take place.  

Where is the UN building

The UN headquarters and the glass building are located in the east of Midtown Manhattan, in the neighborhood called Turtle Bay, on the East River, at the address 760 United Nations Plaza.

THEentrance for visitors it is located on the corner of 46th Street and 1st Avenue in New York, yet we can say that the palace it is not found in America!

In fact, once you enter you will be in international territory, given that the building enjoys the right of extraterritoriality and can be said to belong to all UN member states.

By the way, did you know that the UN is the only organization in the world that, despite being neither a nation nor a territory, can issue its own stamps? Take a look at ONE STAMPS.

UN building.

The history of the UN building and other buildings

For the construction of the Glass Palace 45 different projects were submitted and construction work began in 1947. The assignment was awarded to a group of 4 New York companies that completed a contract worth over $ 30 million. 

The UN building is 154 m high and was designed by the architect Oscar Niemeyer in collaboration with the Swiss architect and landscape architect Le Corbusier. It is developed over 39 floors and was one of the first skyscrapers in New York with a curtain wall structure.

The complex occupies an area of ​​7 hectares and was purchased also thanks to the magnate John D. Rockefeller Jr., who donated 8,5 million dollars to the UN. The official opening took place on September 14th 1948 while the works officially ended only in 1952.

The UN Building is the seat of the administrative functions of the United Nations, including some financial and translation activities.

 Between 2010 and 2012 it was partially renovated, but in October 2012 the basement was hit by severe flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy which caused extensive damage and the relocation of some offices.

In front of the Glass Palace it can be observed a long line of flags of countries that are part of the UN, arranged in alphabetical order, from A to Z (don't forget to take a souvenir photo!).

The UN Building is actually the main building of a complex that includes other institutional structures such as the General Assembly Building, where the delegations meet in the assembly and the Conference Building, seat of the Security Council Chamber.

Within walking distance there is also la library Dag Hammarskjöld, established thanks to numerous private donations. Inside it houses over 400.000 volumes, 9.000 newspapers and magazines and more than 80.000 geographical maps.

Here you can consult books and documents relating to the diplomatic activities carried out by the United Nations over the years.

How to reach us

By metro the most convenient stop is the Grand Central-42nd Street, lines 4, 5, 6, 7.

Once there, you have to get off and walk for 700 meters along 42nd street towards the East River, you will arrive in about ten minutes. If you prefer to go by bus, the lines are as follows: M15, M27, M42, M104.

Requirements to enter

To enter the UN building, around which security checks are rightly stringent, it is necessary to have the passport.

This document will be required at the time of registration in the appropriate office in front of the building (it's right across the street).

For small groups of people traveling together (for example 3 people) it is sufficient that at least one person has a passport. For safety, however, we advise everyone to have their own document.

To see

The standard entrance to the UN building (without tour, so to speak), will give you access to the lobby, to the US Visitor Center, at the souvenir shop, at the refreshment point and at the internal Post Office (you can take the opportunity to send some postcards that will arrive with the UN stamp).

It will be a pleasant "walk" in an international territory!

This access will also allow you to see the works placed in the outdoor garden up close. Not to be missed:

  • la Peace Bell donated by Japan and obtained from the fusion of coins from over 60 countries around the world;
  • la Sphere in the sphere of our Arnaldo Pomodoro;
  • la Knotted gun,symbol of non-violence, a gift from Luxembourg;
  • Il Rose Garden, a beautiful garden with 25 different varieties of roses.
The knotted gun, outside the UN building.

Guided tours (also in Spanish)

Duration and tickets

Each tour guided lasts about an hour and is made up of a maximum number of 20 participants.

Tickets can be purchased online on the official website of the United Nations, where you will find clearly indicated the available times. There is also the possibility of buy tickets at the entrance, but given that the demand is strong and there is a risk of not finding a place, we suggest you buy them via the web and well in advance or show up there in the morning.

Visits are possible in 6 different languages: Arabic, English, Chinese, Spanish, Russian and French. There are still tours in different languages, such as Spanish, but they are less frequent.

These are the prices per person, for individuals and small groups (up to 39 people):

  • Adult: $ 22.00
  • Student (13 years +): $ 15.00
  • Senior (60 years +): $ 15.00
  • Child (5-12 years old): $ 13.00

Children under the age of 5 cannot take the tours for safety reasons.

For groups of 40 people or more, it is necessary to contact the reservations staff directly at [email protected].

On the day of the tour, you must arrive one hour in advance for the necessary checks.

What the tour is about

Your guide will describe the organization in depth, providing details on its history, structure, composition and functions. You will also discover lots of information on UN buildings and their designers.

You will pause to observe the artistic objects donated over the years by the member countries to the UN: an assortment that will make you reflect on how different the countries and cultures of the world are!

These are mainly works of art such as paintings, sculptures, mosaics and tapestries of great value. Among the most interesting you will find a copy of the famous Guernica of Pablo Picasso, a stained glass window decorated by Marc Chagall and a splendid mosaic built on a design by Norman rockwell.

You will also visit an interesting exhibition dedicated to peace and disarmament, which displays numerous objects that withstood the impact of the Atomic Bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

There is no shortage of other artifacts of considerable interest such as war mines and a specimen of shotgun of the Colombian artist Cesar Lopez: it is an instrument obtained from the union of an AK 47 speargun and a guitar.

In one of the exhibition spaces you can admire the work of the Brazilian artist Octavio Roth, dedicated to the 30 articles that make up the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

You will have access to the rooms of the Security Council - the beating heart of the United Nations - and ofGeneral Assembly; your guide will reveal its functions.

During the visit, remember to maintain a discreet attitude and do not speak loudly (you are in a workplace). You will be able to take photographs (but not videos), and surely you will take some of them among the benches where the representatives of the nations normally sit.

Hours and days of opening

The UN building can be visited from the 9.00 16.45 (last departure) tutti i giorni, with some exceptions reported on the United Nations website. For more information, you can send an email (in English) to [email protected], or call +1 (212) 963 7539.

Guided tours run from Monday to Friday.

Eating and shopping at the UN

Snacks and shopping will certainly not be the main purpose of your visit to the UN building, but know that there are also these possibilities.

If you would like to have a coffee (strictly American), a sweet or a snack, you will find a refreshment point at Visitor's Cafe, right inside the Visitor's Center, which offers you a rich and varied menu ranging from sushi to our beloved pizza.

You may find yourself next to those who work at the UN and are taking a little break, and you will probably notice the difference between their formal and elegant attire and your look, decent but certainly practical as befits any good tourist.

And if you feel like "really eating" at the UN headquarters, you can make a reservation for the Delegation Dining Room.

The opening time is by 11: 30 14 to: 30 and the menu card includes seasonal ingredients and dishes from the main world gastronomies. Lunch is at buffet and for tourists the price is approx $ 45 per person.

For your purchases, you will find an original souvenir shop, with items bearing the United Nations logo, special collections of jewelry and sundries from over 193 member countries.

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