Walk 11: 42nd Street: Grand Central to the United Nations

Once a rocky plain with great variations in height and depth, 42nd Street developed as a uptown depot for Commodore Vanderbilt's railroad lines to Harlem, the Hudson Valley and New Haven. The neighborhood was noisy and filled with soot due to the numerous factories that made everything from chairs to bricks, located across the streets. In the late 1920s, even the Daily News built its own noisy all-night plant at Second Avenue. The gritty boulevard was transformed into a secondary business district that has existed from the 1920s to the present day. This process began with the new station of 1913, which facilitated consumer travel and eliminated the need to take the El or the new subway line, the IRT, downtown. Today, it may be a stronger business district than its rival downtown at Wall Street.

The end of World War II brought great hopes for world peace. A new complex devoted to the good works of the United Nations was built along the East River at 42nd Street on the site, ironically, of the city's former slaughter houses. Today, this area seems a bit overwhelmed by the tall buildings on First and Second Avenues which received their inspiration from the new UN complex completed in the early 1950s. However, the U.N. rejuvenated the city by making New York a major world capital.

Grand Central Terminal, East 42nd Street at Park Avenue, Reed & Stem, Warren & Wetmore [1903-1913]
Grand Hyatt Hotel, East 42nd Street at Lexington Avenue, Warren & Wetmore [1911]
Bowery Savings Bank, 110 East 42nd Street, York and Sawyer [1923]
Chanin Building, 122 East 42nd Street, Sloan & Robertson [1929]
Chrysler Building, 405 Lexington Avenue, William Van Alen [1929-30]
Daily News Building, 220 East 42nd Street, Howells & Hood [1930]; Addition by Harrison & Abramowitz [1958]
Ford Foundation Building, 321 East 42nd Street, Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo & Associates [1967]
Tudor City, East 40th to East 43rd Streets between First and Second Avenues, Fred F. French & Co., H. Douglas Ives [1925-8]
United Nations Headquarters and Plaza, First Ave between 42nd and 48th Street, International Committee of Architects, Wallace K. Harrison, Chairman [1947-53]

Related links:
-Offical United Nations Site

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