In the midst of New York City is this working monument to world peace. The U.N. headquarters occupies 18 acres of international territory -- neither the city nor the United States has jurisdiction here -- along the East River from 42nd to 48th streets. Designed by an international team of architects (led by American Wallace K. Harrison and including Le Corbusier) and finished in 1952, the complex along the East River weds the 39-story glass slab Secretariat with the free-form General Assembly on beautifully landscaped grounds donated by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. The 180 member-nations use the facilities to arbitrate worldwide disputes.
Guided tours leave every half-hour or so and last 45 minutes to an hour. Your guide will take you to the General Assembly Hall and the Security Council Chamber and introduce the history and activities of the United Nations and its related organizations. Along the tour you'll see donated objects and artwork, including charred artifacts that survived the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, stained-glass windows by Chagall, a replica of the first Sputnik, and a mosaic called The Golden Rule, based on a Norman Rockwell drawing, which was a gift from the United States in 1985.
If you take the time to wander the beautifully landscaped grounds, you'll be rewarded with lovely views and some surprises. The mammoth monument Good Defeats Evil, donated by the Soviet Union in 1990, fashioned a contemporary St. George slaying a dragon from parts of a Russian ballistic missile and an American Pershing missile.
For an unusual treat, try a multi-ethnic meal while visiting the U.N. at the Delegates' Dining Room (tel. 212/963-7625). Lunch is served from 11:30am to 2pm. Diners must be 12 years or older.
- © Frommer's 2013