Fact Sheet: United Nations Headquarters
Standing on the eastern shore of Manhattan island, on the banks of New York City's East River, the 18-acre United Nations Headquarters remains both a symbol of peace and a beacon of hope.
The site of UN Headquarters is owned by the United Nations. It is an international territory. No federal, state or local officer or official of the United States, whether administrative, judicial, military or police, may enter UN Headquarters, except with the consent of and under conditions agreed to by the Secretary-General of the Organization.
However, the United Nations is bound by an agreement with the United States, its host country, to prevent its Headquarters from being used as a refuge for persons attempting to avoid arrest under the Federal, State or local laws of the United States. People being extradited by the United States Government are also denied use of United Nations Headquarters in attempts to avoid arrest. The UN has its own fire fighting and security forces, and its own post office branch.
United Nations Headquarters was designed to serve four major groups: delegations, who represent 192 Member States and send more than 5,000 persons to New York each year for the annual sessions of the General Assembly; the Secretariat, numbering about 4,900 persons in New York out of a total of about 7,500 throughout the world; visitors, who average 1 million yearly; and journalists, of whom approximately 2,000 are permanently accredited, while over 6,000 attend major meetings.
On 10 December 1945, the Congress of the United States unanimously resolved to invite the United Nations to establish its permanent home in that country. Thereafter, the decision to locate the United Nations near New York City was made by the General Assembly at its first session, held in London on 14 February 1946.
During the latter half of 1946, following selection of the United States as host country, a special United Nations site committee studied possible locations in such places as Philadelphia, Boston and San Francisco. While consideration was given at first to areas north of New York City, crowded Manhattan had not been seriously investigated. A last-minute offer of $8.5 million by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., for the purchase of the present site was accepted by a large majority of the General Assembly on 14 December 1946. New York City completed the site parcel by additional gifts of property.
The site chosen by the United Nations was a run-down area of slaughterhouses, light industry and a railroad barge landing.