When the United Nations began its search for a world capital site in the northeastern United States in 1946, Boston became a focus of attention. With diplomats on the way to inspect possible sites, cities and towns in Massachusetts clamored to be noticed. Their letters, telegrams, and promotional brochures came so quickly, and in such volume, that news reporters could only speculate about the extent of the competition. Capital of the World: The Race to Host the United Nations documents more than forty communities in Massachusetts that vied for the UN’s attention — along with several that energetically resisted.
Now, we have a new contender. Sean M. Fisher, an archivist with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, writes that evidence of a world capital campaign by Gardner, Massachusetts, turned up during a recent survey of local history records at Gardner Heritage State Park. The Gardner boosters, led by William A. McMahon (1910-98), presented their town as the “logical site for the permanent home of the United Nations Organization” in a promotional booklet dated January 5, 1946.
Thanks to Sean for adding to our understanding of the scope of American interest in creating a Capital of the World at the end of World War II. I am sure there are more world capital hopefuls waiting to be found, especially in the northeastern United States. Let me know, and if there is documentation we will add them to the list!