United Nations Day, 1949

Email a Friend
Secretary-General Trygve Lie and Wallace K. Harrison, Chief Architect, applying mortar to seal the cornerstone. 24 October 1949 United Nations, New York

Celebrated each year on October 24, United Nations Day commemorates the day in 1945 when the UN Charter was made effective. United Nations Day was first celebrated in 1948, and in 1949 the cornerstone of the United Nations building between First Avenue and the East River was laid. Among those present to mark the event were Carlos P. Romulo, President of the General Assembly, Secretary General Trygve Lie, President Harry Truman and New York City Mayor William O'Dywer.

Assembled to dedicate the now iconic seventeen and a half acres of land along Manhattan's East side, the speeches that day reflected a dedication to the beliefs stated in the preamble of the United Nations Charter, and above all a commitment to peace.

"We the peoples of the United Nations determined: to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, And for these ends: to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples, Have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims: Accordingly, our respective Governments, through representatives assembled in the city of San Francisco, who have exhibited their full powers found to be in good and due form, have agreed to the present Charter of the United Nations and do hereby establish an international organization to be known as the United Nations."

In President Truman's speech to the assembled crowd he calls the United Nations headquarters "the most important buildings in the world, for these are the center of man's hope for peace and a better life. This is the place where the nations of the world will work together to make that hope a reality."


Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection.