The United Nations Building

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The United Nations Building in New York

Written by Scott Messmore

The United Nations Headquarters building in New York City is the home of the international organization and one of the most visited sites in the city. President Franklin D. Roosevelt first coined the term United Nations during the early years of World War II. The idea of a world body to sort out and settle disputes had been around for generations. Woodrow Wilson failed to organize the League of Nations after the War to End All Wars in 1918 and it took the devastation of the Second World War to bring nations to the United Nations flag in 1945. The United Nations presently has 191 member nations.

Guarding the World

Today the United Nations has peacekeeping soldiers on duty in dozens of world hotspots and serves as a forum for international diplomacy. The United Nations Headquarters complex houses the General Assembly Building, the Secretariat Building, the Dag Hammerskjold Library and the Conference Building. The United Nations complex is unique in its own right and also has some great treasures from around the world.

The Golden Rule

Americans will love the mosaic based on the Norman Rockwell painting "The Golden Rule." The painting was done by Rockwell who felt that every religion had tenets similar to the Golden Rule. The mosaic show common people of many different cultures with the words "Do unto Others as You Would Have Them Do unto You" as an inscription. Another amazing work of art is a trestle train carving made from the tusks of eight elephants which was donated to the United Nations building by the People's Republic of China in 1974. The carving is famous for its intricacy and incredible attention to detail, nearly 100 artists worked on the piece for two years. Another great piece of art from Asia is the Peace Bell from the people of Japan. The bell was cast using the metal from coins that had been collected from the children of 60 different nations around the world. The bell hangs from a small building which is similar to a Shinto shrine. The Japanese Peace Bell is rung each year in September to mark the beginning of the General Assembly's annual sessions. The Netherlands donated a giant swinging Foucault pendulum that shows the rotation of the earth. The gold plated sphere swings back and forth and appears to change direction throughout the day. In fact it's Mother Earth rotating underneath the free-hanging pendulum. Many exhibits are shown in the public lobby of the General Assembly. Admission to the exhibits is free from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday from January to March. From March to the month of December, the exhibits are open every day. For more information on exhibits at the United Nations building, call 212-963-4475.

Hours of Operation and Location

Tours of the United Nations Headquarters complex are held every day and start at 30-minute intervals. Tours are held from 9:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. During the months of January and February, the UN buildings are closed on the weekends. Tours are conducted in approximately 20 languages and wheelchairs are available for tours. Tour prices are: adults, $10.00; seniors, $7.50; high school and college students, $6.50; children in first through eighth grades, $5.50. No children under the age of five are allowed on the tours. To make a reservation, which is only required for twelve or more people, call 212-963-4440. For tour information, call 212-963-TOUR(8687). The Visitor's Entrance to the United Nations is located on First Avenue at 46th Street, New York.

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