A Worldly Affair: New York, the United Nations, and the Story Behind Their Unlikely Bond

A Worldly Affair: New York, the United Nations, and the Story Behind Their Unlikely Bond

by Pamela Hanlon


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For more than seven decades, New York City and the United Nations have shared the island of Manhattan, living and working together in a bond that has been likened to a long marriage—both tempestuous and supportive, quarrelsome and committed. A Worldly Affair tells the story of this hot and cold romance, from the 1940s when Mayor Fiorello La Guardia was doggedly determined to bring the new world body to New York, to the UN’s flat rejection of the city’s offer, then its abrupt change of course in the face of a Rockefeller gift, and on to some tense, troubling decades that followed.

Racial prejudice and anti-Communist passions challenged the young international institution. Spies, scofflaw diplomats, provocative foreign visitors, and controversial UN-member policy positions tested New Yorkers’ patience. And all the while, the UN’s growth—from its original 51 member states to 193 by 2017—placed demands on the surrounding metropolis for everything from more office space, to more security, to better housing and schools for the international community’s children. As the city worked to accommodate the world body’s needs—often in the face of competition from other locales vying to host at least parts of the UN entity—New Yorkers at times grew to resent its encroachment on their neighborhoods, and at times even its very presence. It was a constituent sentiment that provoked more than one New York mayor to be less than hospitable in dealing with the city’s international guests.

Yet, as the UN moves into its eighth decade in New York—with its headquarters complex freshly renovated and the city proudly proclaiming that the organization adds nearly $4 billion to the New York economy each year—it seems clear the decades-old marriage will last. Whatever the inevitable spats and clashes along the way, the worldly affair is here to stay.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780823284320
Publisher: Fordham University Press
Publication date: 05/07/2019
Pages: 248
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Pamela Hanlon, a former corporate communications executive with American Express Company, United Airlines, and Pan American, has lived in the East Midtown neighborhood of Manhattan, near the United Nations headquarters, since 1976, and has written extensively about the area.

Table of Contents



Chapter One: City Rebuffed

Chapter Two: Suburbia Unnerved

Chapter Three: Cosmopolitan Charm

Chapter Four: Rockefellers to the Rescue

Chapter Five: Rise of a Cityscape Icon

Chapter Six: Smoothing Out the Wrinkles

Chapter Seven: Learning to Live Side by Side

Chapter Eight: Autumn in New York

Chapter Nine: Tussle over Tickets

Chapter Ten: Trio Created

Chapter Eleven: Making a Mark

Chapter Twelve: Quandary over Age

Chapter Thirteen: Renewal of a Cityscape Icon






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A Worldly Affair: New York, the United Nations, and the Story Behind Their Unlikely Bond 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
brf1948 More than 1 year ago
I received a free electronic copy of this interesting history from Netgalley, Pamela Hanlon, and Fordham University Press in exchange for an honest review. This is a very intriguing history of the establishment of the United Nations into downtown New York City. I don't recall hearing much about the ins and outs of this comingling of the world organization of nations with the flamboyant and unique NYC. Not a lot of national press made it into the wilds of New Mexico back in the day. I am very much involved with the history today. Thank you for bringing this wonderful story in it's totality to this generation of readers and us oldsters who are only now paying attention.