United Nations Building

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The United Nations Building

Where the current United Nations Building is now, ground was broken for it’s construction on September 14, 1948. A $30 million dollar contract was shared between four construction companies.

What is now unofficially the headquarters of the world, is land that remains part of the United States, although it is also, at the same time, United Nations territory…


This map was courtesy of OpenStreetMap. The exact location of the United Nations Building compound is Its borders are First Avenue on the west, East 42nd Street to the south, East 48th Street on the north and the East River to the east, in an area known as ‘Turtle Bay’,

Turtle Bay 1853

As with all works involving authority oversight, the United Nations building was not completed overnight, rather, it was completed in 1952, some four years after groundbreaking began. Despite this late opening, the first 450 UN employees began work at the secretariat building on August 22, 1950, although the UN it wasn’t until January 8 1951 that the UN officially moved into the building. At this point, there were already 3300 people working there.

At around the same time as the official opening of the U.N. secretariat, the idea for a United Nations library was proposed. Although it was technically already existing elsewhere, the site was too small to house the approximately 400,000 books that were required. So, in 1955, a collection of 250,000 volumes was temporarily housed inside this new secretariat building. However, this library was eventually able to secure it’s own identity by moving into what is known as the Dag Hammarskjöld Library. Whilst the library was now housed in it’s own building, it is still connected to the main United Nations building by ground level and underground corridors. The official dedication of this building occurred on November 16, 1961. You might wonder how this library building got it’s name, considering it is not necessarily a name that flows off the tongue? The name was given to the building in honor of someone who was instrumental in obtaining funding for the project, Dr. Hammarskjöld. Unfortunately, the Doc did not live to see the dedication of this new building, having died two months before the dedication, however the building was renamed in his honor.

This main building has 39 floors, and is about 154 meters in height.  The building houses the UN security council and the general assembly of the UN. The U.N. itself has 15 specialized agencies but none of these are housed in the headquarters here in the ‘Big Apple’.

The original owner of the land which became home to the United Nations building was William Zeckendorf Sr. Ironically, the site, which is now what the nations consider as home to peace and security, was originally a site that was home to slaughterhouses and tenement buildings!

The general assembly of the United Nations contains all 192 members of the United Nations, and their regular sessions begin yearly in September.

For visitors to the UN, there is a specific visitor entrance which is located at:

United Nations
Visitors Entrances
1st Avenue & 45th Street




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