October 24: United Nations Day

United Nations Day 2013

On this date in 1945, the United Nations came into being when a sufficient number of nations — twenty-nine — ratified the UN Charter. This milestone signaled the fifty-one member nations to send representatives to London to serve on the UN Preparatory Commission, which would lay the groundwork for the first meeting of the UN General Assembly.

This step in the UN’s early days also alerted civic boosters in American cities and towns that a decision about the UN’s permanent headquarters location might be approaching. On the very day that the Charter ratification became official, a team from Philadelphia visited President Truman to make a pitch for the City of Brotherly Love. By the end of November, the Philadelphians and representatives of other hopeful cities were on their way to London — without invitation — to be sure that their cases were heard. The race was on.


Field of Dreams

In Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, one of the sites offered to the United Nations.

In Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, one of the sites offered to the United Nations.

On this beautiful spring day in Philadelphia, I took a drive out to one of the potential sites for a Capital of the World — Belmont Plateau in Fairmount Park. It’s easy to see why Philadelphians offered this location to the United Nations. Notice the skyline of the city visible beyond the tree line. In 1945-46, the skyline would have been only as high as Philadelphia’s City Hall, but the trees would have been lower, too.  The location also is within view of Memorial Hall, one of the few remaining structures from the Centennial Exhibition world’s fair in 1876. It was a spectacular offer, and it nearly lured the United Nations out of New York.


In search of the Capital of the World

Follow the journey from the beginning …

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