Though he’s soft-spoken and prefers to lead by example, the Monkey is not averse to entering the corridors of power to lay down the law. Here, he takes you on a tour of the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
After its creation in 1945, the United Nations needed a headquarters. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. donated an 18-acre plot along the East River in Manhattan, and the land was internationalized so that no country could claim “possession” of the UN Headquarters. The UN drew together some of the leading lights of international architecture—chief among them William Harrison, Oscar Niemayer (who later designed Brasilia), and Le Corbusier—to design its headquarters facilities. The result was a striking collection of buildings in the Modern (International) style.
In this shot you see the curving roofline of the General Assembly Hall, and behind it, the sleek Secretariat Building, New York City’s first glass-curtain walled skyscraper.
Inside, too, the UN Headquarters’ design reflected the shining stars of the Modern movement and the international character of the institution. In this photo, the Monkey relaxes in one of Mies van der Rohe’s iconic Barcelona chairs, originally designed for his German Pavilion at the 1929 Barcelona International Exhibition. Out the window you can see part of the structure that houses the Japanese Peace Bell, donated by Japan in 1954 and cast from coins from 60 countries.
The Monkey in the Hall of the UN General Assembly, where every nation-state has an opportunity to air its grievances and ideas. Its newest members are Switzerland and East Timor (2002), leaving the Holy See (the Vatican) as the only state that is not a permanent member of the UN (though it does have observer status).
In the atrium of the visitors’ entrance to the UN Headquarters, the Monkey spotted a replica of Sputnik, the spherical Soviet space probe that first saw the human race enter the heavens. As demure as it looks, Sputnik is a symbol of the heights of human achievement.
Beside the UN General Assembly Building is a small sculpture garden with a number of symbolic works. In this photo, the Monkey examines “Non-Violence,” a sculpture by Karl Fredrik. Luxembourg gave the sculpture to the United Nations as a gift in 1988.
The Monkey tunes into simultaneous translation during a session of the Security Council. The United Nations has six official languages: Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish. English and French, the traditional languages of international diplomacy, are the most commonly used. Most UN staff are at least bilingual.
The Monkey stares out over the East River toward Queens (reverse shot here) from his office in the UN Secretariat Building. The Secretariat is the administrative body of the UN, with a staff drawn from its member states and responsible for the day to day operational functions necessary to carry out the policies put forth by the Security Council and General Assembly.
The head of the Secretariat is the Secretary-General, currently Ban Ki-moon of South Korea. The small island in the center of river in this photo is U Thant Island, a UN-administered territory named for the third UN Secretary-General, U Thant of Burma.
Former UN Secretary-General U Thant and the Monkey.
This Monkey adventure has been viewed 1281 times since the 2010 website relaunch.