Saturday, 9 May 2020

rushmore or turtle bay

Though the selection of cosmopolitan New York as the location for the ensemble of buildings that comprise the headquarters of the United Nations—completed in 1952 with adjunct offices in the Hague, Vienna, Nairobi and Geneva—might seem like the natural choice now (though one could imagine other candidates in Toronto, Washington, DC, St Petersburg, Los Angeles) we learn from 99% Invisible (also available in audio format) that more than two hundred and fifty candidate sites competed with one another (see also) to host the intergovernmental organisation with one of those contenders being the Badlands of South Dakota not far from Mount Rushmore garnering the support of several champions.
Aside from virtually limitless space for a planned city of consulates, assembly halls and housing for diplomats, the geographical location of the proposed location in the centre of the US was seen as a compromise between European delegates that favoured the eastern seaboard and Asian members who preferred the west coast for the same reason of ease of travel. The planning committee was finally lured to settle on Manhattan after the offer of six square blocks of prime real estate by philanthropist and conservationist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Though making the case for a rural HQ presently might seem a bit far-fetched (though perhaps not—what with many of us teleworking), it’s nonetheless interesting to try to imagine how the character and decisions of the UN might be informed by their whereabouts.