It is a sunny morning, a week after I have visited my very last United Nations country, and I decide to visit the Headquarters of the UN on a visit to New York. Buying a ticket online seems impossible, but fortunately I can easily get one directly inside the General Assembly building after first getting an entrance ticket and going through security control. While waiting for the tour to begin, I walk around the Esplanade. On one side, I see a new monument to commemorate the history of slavery. Unfortunately, it is not possible to walk to the riverfront, or in the garden off the esplanade, so I can only see the statues there (one of them, Good and Evil), from a distance. There are a few more works of art on the Esplanade, like Non-violence, a gun with a knot in it, Sphere within a Sphere, and others.
Inside the building, I find a row of portraits of former Secretary-Generals of the United Nations on one of the walls. I see the "Save our Oceans" exhibition, with pictures from several local communities, showing how their life depends on the sea. There are many more works of art in the entrance hall. One of the most impressive is the stained glass window my Marc Chagall, donated to the UN by their staff after the second Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjölld was killed with his staff while on a mission in Africa in 1961. Close to it, the damaged UN flag which once flew over the UN mission in Baghdad, until the Canal Hotel bombing destroyed the UN office in Baghdad, killing 22, including the Special Envoy Sérgio Vieira de Mello.
When the tour starts, I am happy to be in a small group of interested visitors. We are asked about our countries of origin, and are an interesting mix of people from various countries. Our Jordanian guide takes us to higher floors. We see several more works of art, gifts from member states of the UN. Unfortunately, the Security Council is in session, so we cannot have an inside look. One of the most interesting displays we see, is a chart depicting the difference in expenditure on military goals, versus development aid, disarmament, or UN contributions. It gives a good idea both about the fact that universal peace is still a far cry, and of the idealism behind the United Nations. We are allowed to visit the General Assembly Hall, and see more works of art on our way out. After my visit, I walk the long row of flags of all 193 member states, plus two observer states at the end, in alphabetical order, from 42nd Street to 48th Street, from north to south. Memories of my visits to those countries flow back to my mind while doing so - more than before, it makes me realize how many adventures I have lived in all those countries, and how many people I have met on that long mission.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from United Nations Headquarters (U.S.A.). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to United Nations Headquarters.
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