When you’re on a Skyline Cruise around New York City, it’s almost impossible to go more than a few minutes without seeing a world-famous landmark. Our climate-controlled yacht, the Skyline Princess will give you spectacular views of the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Freedom Tower, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty. But there’s one site that you’ll see on a Skyline Cruise that’s known all around the world because it’s important to every country in the world. We’re talking about the headquarters of the United Nations.
The iconic glass tower that overlooks the East River and the oblique shaped building that houses the general assembly and three other buildings are home to an international organization designed to promote world cooperation. Skyline Cruises wants to tell you a little bit about the history behind this building in hopes that you’ll have a fuller appreciation of New York’s rich history the next time you book a cruise with us.
Finding a Location for The United Nations
The United Nations was formed after World War II in an effort to prevent future world conflicts. Representatives of 50 countries met in San Francisco in 1945 to draw up the organization’s charter, according to the UN website. The first few sessions of the UN General Assembly met in various cities around the world, while the organization planned to find a permanent home.
In 1947 they settled on a 17-acre plot of land by the East River that had been donated by John D. Rockefeller, according to the architectural website ArchDaily. Among other areas that had been considered as a possible site was a private island in Canada near Niagara Falls.
However, Manhattan was an ideal location since New York City is a large hub for international travel. Although the UN is physically located in New York, it’s not legally bound by US law. Rockefeller associate Wallace K. Harrison, who had previously participated in the design of Rockefeller Center and would later help plan Lincoln Center was tapped to lead the design team.
A Collaboration of Architects
Several designs were submitted but the one that was ultimately chosen was a collaboration between French architect Le Corbusier and Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer who was the youngest member of the design team, according to the UN. Niemeyer proposed separating the Secretariat building and the general assembly building in his plan which would have had each of the buildings be large towers. That plan was accepted, but Le Corbusier convinced Niemeyer to include his plan for the general assembly building, the shorter building we see today. The complex was completed in 1952 and the UN now has 193 member states.
Niemeyer who died in 2012 at age 104, said before the project began that designing a complex that would capture the essence of the UN’s mission would be difficult.
“We must have in mind what is the UN?” he said. “It is an organization set the nations of the world in a common direction and gives to the world security. I think it is difficult to get this into steel and stone. But if we make something representing the true spirit of our age, of comprehension and solidarity, it will by its own strength give the idea that that is the big political effort, too.”
Let Skyline Cruises Show You the History and Beauty of New York
We hope you enjoyed this look at the United Nations complex. It’s just one of the many spectacular sights you will see when you book a Skyline Cruise. If you want to make your corporate event, wedding, or other celebration memorable, why not have the greatest city in the world as your backdrop? Contact us today via the form on this page or call our main office at (718) 446-1100 to learn more.