1st Avenue (between 42nd and 49th streets)
Grand Central-East 42nd Street station (S, 4, 5, 6, 7 train)
The United Nations was established on October 24, 1945, in the aftermath of World War II. There were fifty-one countries in the initial formation, and their goal was to maintain peace and provide humanitarian assistance around the world. Over the years, the United Nations has grown to include some 192 member states.
Countries joining the United Nations agree to accept a charter that outlines the basic principles of international relations. While the U.N. has tried to help maintain world order and promote peace, it is not a lawmaking entity and has taken criticism for not being able to prevent international conflicts. Yet its policies and programs have helped to promote harmony between nations and respect for human rights.
The United Nations is affiliated with many other organizations that are involved in other activities, including international air travel, telecommunications, protecting the environment, and improving the quality of life for refugees and people living in poverty. UNICEF is one among many programs the United Nations has established over the years to help the international community.
The United Nations is made up of six branches, five of which occupy an eighteen-acre tract of land in New York City. David Rockefeller originally donated the land, which is designated as international territory. The five components of the New York headquarters include the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, and the Secretariat. The sixth body is the International Court of Justice, which is headquartered at The Hague in the Netherlands.Touring the U.N.
The vast riverside promenade overlooking the East River is spectacular, with a rose garden, carefully landscaped lawns, and sculptures from nations worldwide. There are four main buildings on the site, including the General Assembly, the tall glass-enclosed Secretariat Building, the Conference Area (including Council Chambers), and the Dag Hammarskjöld Library. Flags from all member nations flank the buildings and landscape.
The United Nations functions much like a country. The United Nations compound is considered international territory; it belongs not to the United States but to all of the members of the United Nations together. The United Nations has six official languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.
The United Nations is best visited on a clear day so that you can stroll through the promenade and enjoy the scenery and the view. Guided tours are available every day except January 1, Thanksgiving, December 25, and weekends in January and February. The tours take you through all the main areas of the United Nations, including inside the General Assembly (unless it is in session) and the Security Council Chamber. The numerous exhibits, artwork from around the world, and décor of the buildings are all explained.
The United Nations Bookshop on the premises features a vast assortment of books and periodicals in many languages, plus marvelous children's books, posters, United Nations calendars, and more. At the Gift Centre, you can purchase unique handcrafted items plus gifts from around the world, as well as flags and the more typical souvenirs.
You can learn all about the United Nations charter, its day-to-day activities, and the functions of the various branches and numerous associated agencies. Web sites include the U.N. home page at
The United Nations Coffee Shop in the public concourse offers light fare Monday to Friday, 9
There is also a post office on the premises, so you can get those postcards out immediately — with U.N. stamps. Remember, you are not in United States territory here! Also lots of interesting philatelic items at face value for you stamp collectors, including personalized stamps.Location and Hours
There are exhibits on various topics in the Visitor's Lobby, open from 9
U.N. tours are given in some twenty languages; call ahead to check on specific availability 212-963-7539. The cost is $13 for adults, $9 for seniors, $8.50 for students under thirty with ID, $7 for children five to fourteen; children under five not admitted on tours. Each tour lasts forty-five minutes. Tours are available from 9:30
The United Nations Bookshop is open Monday through Friday, 9
The U.N. is wheelchair accessible, and wheelchairs are provided free of charge.