I’m in Manhattan, New York, and today I’m visiting one of the most important landmarks of the world. I’m talking of course, about the United Nations headquarters, a sprawling complex designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. Ever since its completion in the year 1952, it has served as headquarters for the lead peace keeping institution of the world. Overlooking the East river, this sprawling complex is in the Turtle Bay area of Manhattan, and is completely under the administration of the United Nations, in spite of being on US soil. However, the UNHQ does follow most local, state and federal laws in exchange for services like fire protection and police.
How many member countries are in the United Nations?
The minute you pass through the gates of the UN, you are in international territory which belongs to not one, two or even twenty, but 193 member countries! Think about that! All it takes to enter is a government issued photo identity proof and of course, clearing the security test. There are quite a few number of things to see and do here, so it’s a fun visit. The visitor’s center entrance is on the 46th street and 1st Avenue, from where you get to the visitor center at the basement of the General Assembly building. Guided tours of the premises are offered which you can either book online, or through the check-in center. Along the way are several exhibits and installations which help you learn about the United Nations and the work it undertakes. There’s also a Public Inquiries center where you can ask a question or pick up a fact sheet. Pro-tip: Pick up a fact sheet first, it’s pretty exhaustive.
United Nations Publications
There’s also a bookshop and a gift center where you can catch up on the latest UN publications, if you’re so inclined, or just pick up a souvenir like I did. Trust me, the gift shop has some really interesting stuff! Another interesting thing to do here is to visit the UN Stamps and Post office. A haven for stamp collectors, you can find special UN stamps here, which you can also use to send mail all over the world. Even better, you can create your own custom UN photo stamps here and use those to send mail all over the world. Pretty cool, huh?
United Nations Gifts and Merchandise
This isn’t all, you can also check out the UN Women’s Guild and The World Federation of United Nations Associations and support their causes by purchasing totally legit UN merchandise. Shopping for a cause it is. And of course, you can wind up this excellent tour by visiting the Café. The café serves a wide variety of delicious food from all over the world. And the coffee is tasty too.
All in all, this is a tour well worth the $22 it costs.