Sunday, March 14, 2010

New York Highlights #2

After visiting Grand Central Terminal, we came out onto the sidewalk and pulled out our map to establish which direction we should start walking.  An elderly gentleman, dressed in a suit and camelhair coat, stopped to ask if he could help and confirmed that we should walk east.  We thanked him and, with a twinkle in his eye,  he made us smile when he said, "Remember you shouldn't talk to strangers in New York City!"

On the edge of the East River, we came to our next destination.

 The United Nations was formed in 1945 and this 18 acre site of land was donated by John D. Rockfeller to be used for the official headquarters.   The land is international territory and is not under jurisdiction of any one country.   An international team of architects cooperated to design the 4 buildings.  The General Assembly building is currently undergoing renovations so we couldn't tour it this time. 

The flags of all 192 member countries fly here daily, in alphabetical order from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.   (Good thing I took this picture when we arrived because the flags all come down at the end of each day and they were gone when we came out of the building.)  Only 3 tiny island countries in the world are not members.  

Interesting sculptures and artwork were found throughout the site and the building.  Inside we paid to take a 45 minute tour and saw -

a pictorial representation of the Declaration of Human Rights, 

this very long (maybe 50 ft.) mural donated by Russia (I believe).  The middle section is entitled "Building Peace",

and the Security Council chamber with artwork and furnishings donated by Norway.  Interpreters and various administration staff sit behind the windows on the right hand side.  It was inspiring to imagine the 15 member countries of this council sitting around the table and working together for the good of people all around the world. 

The UN has adopted a set of 8 Millenium Goals and this quote by Nelson Mandela is part of the display.

Housing materials that are sent to refugee camps and disaster areas around the world.  We saw some of these camps along the roads in Kenya and Tanzania.

An education box with materials for 40 children that is sent to communities to help with school.  
The poster reads, "In today's world, one in 6 adults is still not literate.   2/3 of them are women."

A vignette representing UN peace-keeping missions.

This piece of carved ivory was a gift from the People's Republic of China.  Since the signing of the treaty outlawing the sale of ivory around the world, this piece has been quite criticized.  No matter how you feel about that, the piece was still exquisite - so detailed and intricate!

This mosaic of a Norman Rockwell painting includes the verse from scripture about the golden rule and was given to the UN by the United States.  

The lobby had several exhibitions including this photographic competition about environmental stewardship in Africa.  There were 2 sections - one for amateur entries and one for professionals.  It was amazing to once again have Africa right there in front of us!  

"Non-Violence" or The Knotted Gun" - a gift from the government of Luxembourg

Also in the courtyard is a fractured metal ball sculpture, about which I can find no information.  I'd love to know more about it.

This spot was at the top of our things to do in NYC list and we were very lucky to clear the airport-like security check, purchase our tickets and be on the last English tour of the day, all within half an hour.  Tickets can only be purchased here at the site and sometimes you have to wait a long time in lineups.   There is an international type bookstore and a gift shop in the basement, as well as a post office where one can mail letters and postcards.


  1. looks like a neat place to visit. that education quote is amazing - so true!

  2. Fascinating, Crystal. I will be sure to go there when I do my dream trip one day!

  3. I'm so glad you went and saw the work this amazing organization is doing. I think Tyler's going with A&A to tour it when they come.
    I love the guy who stopped to help you on the street. ;)