When reading up on the United Nations on Wikipedia, I noticed that Navy Island near Niagara falls was being considered at the time of the groups creation for it's location. I'm wondering what locations were considered outside of Manhattan, how seriously they were considered, and why New York was eventually chosen over them?

  • 4
    The US paid for the building...
    – Dale
    Commented Oct 24, 2011 at 22:40
  • The most neutral place for the UN to be located would be Antarctica. Perhaps Canada or Greenland (1/2 way to Europe) would be more convenient locations.
    – Dale
    Commented Oct 24, 2011 at 22:44
  • 1
    It may have helped that the land was given to the UN by John D. Rockefeller, Jr; see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_headquarters Commented Oct 25, 2011 at 11:39
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    @MichaelF The US can hardly be considered a lead in the League of Nations, which it didn't even join. Wilson, the then US head of state, can be considered the father of the LN, but this does not extend to the country as a whole. Commented Oct 25, 2011 at 19:58
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    @Dimitris - probably New York was considered the safest. Any army with the capability to successfully invade the USA pretty much makes the UN irrelevant. While Paris regularly got captured or threatened by it's neighbour
    – none
    Commented Dec 13, 2011 at 16:20

2 Answers 2


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.

Information taken from the United Nations Visitors Centre.

  • But, what were the arguments used by proponents of the USA location proposal to sway the rest of General Assembly?
    – DVK
    Commented Jan 26, 2012 at 19:20
  • I don't know that there were any specific arguments. The US appears to have simnply been the first country to offer a permanent home. Commented Jan 26, 2012 at 19:29
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    @DVK: There were only 53 members of the U.N. on Feb. 14, 1946; half of whom were European countries still devastated by World War Two. Commented Jan 12, 2018 at 14:59
  • @DVK: One of the reasons of the failure of the Society of Nations was the fact that the United States didn't join it. Since in 1946 the United States were way more powerful than in 1919, I'd guess than anything that could help make sure that the US wouldn't skip membership was highly regarded by UN members.
    – Pere
    Commented Nov 24, 2018 at 16:43

what locations were considered outside of Manhattan

More than 200 locations in the USA were proposed.

But first there was a choice of continent and country

"When a vote on the location of the headquarters was taken in London in 1945, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, and Canada voted for a European headquarters."

Most UN members voted to locate the HQ in the USA

locations throughout the United States mounting bids to become the “capital of the world”. San Francisco and Philadelphia were frontrunners for a while. Detroit put in a surprisingly strong showing. Even Black Hills, South Dakota mounted a bid. New York City, and Manhattan in particular, (Robert Moses badly wanted it in Flushing) was something of a last minute compromise solution after all other sites had been rejected.


A whole book has been written on this subject. "Capital of the World: The Race to Host the United Nations", by Charlene Mires.

From 1944 to 1946, as the world pivoted from the Second World War to an unsteady peace, Americans in more than two hundred cities and towns mobilized to chase an implausible dream. The newly-created United Nations needed a meeting place, a central place for global diplomacy—a Capital of the World. But what would it look like, and where would it be? Without invitation, civic boosters in every region of the United States leapt at the prospect of transforming their hometowns into the Capital of the World. The idea stirred in big cities—Chicago, San Francisco, St. Louis, New Orleans, Denver, and more. It fired imaginations in the Black Hills of South Dakota and in small towns from coast to coast.

  • Big props from me for coming up with a whole book on the subject.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jan 12, 2018 at 19:03
  • I'm interested in knowing if there was a east coast- west coast debate. San Francisco seemed like a strong runner up with the 1945 conference and the big park they built.
    – John Dee
    Commented Jan 13, 2018 at 0:33

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