a landscape design befitting its namesake, Dag Agne Carl Hammarskjold. These architectural features, as well as the park’s garden, were designed by NYC park architect George Vellonakis as part of as a community visioning process that began in the 1980s and culminated with the park’s reconstruction in the late 1990s.
The entrance dome near Second Avenue provides a vista to the United Nations, framing a view of the UN statue, Saint George Slaying the Dragon, a gift from the Soviet Union.
Starting point: East 47th Street and Second Avenue, Manhattan.
The 1.5 acre municipal park known as Dag Hammarskjold Plaza occupies the entire southside of the block between First and Second Avenues on East 47th Street in the Manhattan neighborhood of Turtle Bay.
Looking east, the promenade leading to the UN, graced by the metal lattice-work of the entrance dome and six fountains, distinguishes the park with
Steps lead to a raised platform where public sculpture is frequently exhibited. Notice the bronze turtle in the fountain, a symbolic tribute to Turtle Bay.
The lighting fixtures are based on the historic New York City lamp. Two rows of benches line each side of the block-long promenade. The benches are reproductions of the classic park bench developed for the Worlds Fair.
Six fountains border the expansive plaza, connected by a granite seating wall. The water features were designed to mitigate traffic noise and create an atmosphere of peace reflective of the park’s namesake, Dag Hammarskjold.
Toward the center of the plaza, the columns form a crescent, known as the Colonnade. This area is frequently used for performances and community events.
Behind the low iron fence lies a naturalistic garden, entered from a gate behind the fountain nearest First Avenue and the park café. A winding path offers a serene walk in the woods amid the skyscrapers of midtown.
Notice the stepping stones with quotes and images of Oscar-winning films of the late actress Katharine Hepburn. The garden bench was a gift from her estate.
A monument to Raoul Wallenberg entitled “Hope” can be seen on the traffic triangle of First Avenue (UN Plaza). Notice the briefcase at the foot of the column, suggesting unfinished business. Each of the black pillars contains information about Wallenberg’s life and work; for example, one states, "Displaying great daring and ingenuity, Raoul Wallenberg saved the lives of countless Hungarian Jews by placing them under the protection of the Swedish Government."
FACT: Although the city continues to build parks and purchase more park land, less than .05 percent of the annual budget is allocated to park maintenance and operations, even when there’s a budget surplus.
The café structure is an actual greenhouse, selected by the architect for a gardenesque effect. The concession serves sandwiches and snack food, Turkish specialties, coffee, wine and beer.
The park has long served as a site for staging public demonstrations, and the plaza east of the café (near First Avenue), provides freedom of expression for groups from all over the world. Take a moment to look closer at the statue across First Avenue of St. George Slaying the Dragon. The dragon is made of fragments of U.S. and Sovient ballistic missiles. Created by sculptor Zurab Tsereteli, the sculpture is entitled “Good Defeats Evil.”
On the opposite side of the street, you will also find the Japan Society with its indoor bamboo garden and gallery, and the Holy Family Church with a lovely outdoor meditation garden.
Friends of Dag Hammarskjold Plaza ~ 224 East 47th St, Suite 339 ~ New York , NY 10017 tel 212-826-8980
DAG HAMMARSKJOLD PLAZA
Gateway to the United Nations
East 47th Street @ 1st & 2nd Ave.
New York, New York