The Woes of Living Next to the United Nations

As a law student interested in international law, one would think that I would be enamored with the fact that I live a mere 10 blocks from the United Nations Headquarters in Midtown Manhattan. The truth of the matter is I am not enamored with it.

Last week the General Assembly “convened in” my neighborhood. But, I wouldn’t use the phrase “convened in” to characterize what actually transpired. Rather, I think the phrase “wreaked havoc on” or maybe “ravaged” more accurately describes what happened. My neighborhood looked more like the DMZ than Turtle Bay last week. My streets were blocked off. My sidewalks were littered with steel barriers. Multiple cops stood at every corner. News crews occupied much of the remaining free space on the sidewalks, and the protestors took up the rest.

And, to add insult to injury, the barriers were not even placed near the edge of the sidewalk, but rather in the middle of the block (at least that was the case right near my apartment), which cut into valuable sidewalk real estate. I feel like the NYPD did that so they could watch us struggle, and laugh about it.

I live in Midtown Manhattan meaning I should be accustomed to excessive traffic both street and foot, but the General Assembly pushed my resolve to an entirely new extreme. After a long day of school, the last thing I felt like doing was pushing a guy in a giant papier-mâché Ahmadinejad mask out of the way so that I could get to bed (actually I kind of liked doing that)…

To be honest, I do in fact find it very cool that I live ten blocks from the one of the most powerful organizations in the world. But, sometimes I just need to rant about it, especially when the General Assembly is in town. Anyways, thanks for listening.



  1. Unfortunately, your woes come with the territory of living right next to the U.N. When world leaders come together necessity dictates that extreme security measures are taken. If anything was to happen to a world leader, even one as repulsive as Ahmadinejad, it could only mean reprisals against Americans abroad and less respect for the United States generally.

    Speaking of Ahmadinejad, why does this man even bother showing up. He is a complete joke. The religious leaders in Iran are the ones holding the real power, and Ahmadinejad is simply a figurehead. People should not even give him the dignity of protesting him. That only serves to give his ridiculous views an air of legitimacy. He stands for nothing useful and should just stay in stay in Iran instead of adding to the U.N. traffic and security situation.

  2. I enjoyed reading your post, Adam. It’s a fun-to-read, unique perspective of Turtle Bay living. There is certainly a sense of awe that accompanies those beautiful Beaux Art apartments and quaint brownstones near the East River- heightened only by the splendor of the United Nations Headquarters, a symbol of global unity.

    But I agree with you: what a hassle! After a long day of hard work and study, the last thing I would want to deal with is closed streets, clogged sidewalks, loud and boisterous protests, voluminous crowds, a hefty police presence, and a man in a giant papier-mâché Ahmadinejad mask. So, rant away my friend!

  3. I enjoyed reading your posts as well and I definitely understand your reaction and frustration. The idea of something almost always seems more glamorous then it really is. It does sound like an interesting location though, despite the obvious issues when meetings take place. Then again it might be not be that great when the most interesting parts of it calls for traffic jams and roadblocks in the middle of the street. As such, I can easily understand your reaction and I am sure that I would have felt the same way and gotten the same satisfaction at pushing the guy in the giant mask out of the way.
    That being said, like Louis mentioned, I definitely understand the need for it, especially with the state of tension that the world is in. Considering the problems America is already having internationally with the war on terrorism and the incidents in Libya, causing an international incident due to lack of protection is definitely something that needs to be avoided at all costs. That being said, there is such a thing as overkill. Maybe you were right and the NYPD just wanted to have a little fun with it. Everyone needs something to entertain them.

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