OCTOBER 8, 1951
NEW YORK, Sunday—Friday afternoon I met with a group of Army officers at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations to discuss human rights in the U.N. Afterward I went over and had my first tour of the new United Nations Building. The large windows that look from the Council Room out on the East River, and the balcony which runs along the whole length of the building, make it very pleasant and light. I am quite struck by the Norwegian, Swedish and Danish designs for the interior of these rooms. Although the decoration is not complete and the murals and tapestries are not yet on the walls, still one can already get a feeling of "atmosphere," and I think it is going to be very charming when all is in order.
One cannot yet go inside the building which will eventually house the big plenary session meeting hall, but I was assured there was going to be that room for quiet meditation and prayer which so many people have asked me about. For some reason, after it had been given out that this room would exist, stories became current that it was not included in the plans. Then letters began to come asking me please to see that this space was provided for those who wish to have the opportunity for meditation and prayer. There was nothing I could really do about it except to forward the letters to Secretary General Lie, which I did. Not until I went through the building on Friday was I actually able to ask whether we were to have this room provided. I am sure that it will be.
The new cafeteria does not seem to me large enough, and I was told it would not meet the needs of the secretariat. I think there will be an opportunity, therefore, for some good cafeteria to be started across the street. But in summer, when the large sun deck outside the cafeteria can be used, no one will want to be indoors and there will be plenty of space to accomodate everyone. It is hard for me as yet to picture the approaches, but I only hope that when they are really working it will be easier to get taxis than it is at present! There was not a taxi in sight on Friday. A very kind gentleman, who explained to me that he had been called in to repair the vending machines, offered to drive me back to the hotel, and I gratefully accepted.
In the evening there was a board meeting of the American Association for the U.N. which began at 6:30 and ended well after 11 p.m. We were informed that we had better make up our minds that these meetings in the future would take either a full day or an afternoon and evening. It is an appalling thought, for even an evening once a month is hard enough to find.
Saturday I left a little after 9 a.m. with a young man from the National Students Association who kindly offered to drive me to Hartford, Conn., for the forum meeting held as part of the weekend welcome being extended to the foreign students who have come to study this winter in Connecticut colleges. As far as I know, this is the first time a state has taken cognizance of its visitors of university age and undertaken to give them a real welcome. Governor Lodge came to greet them and many students were being entertained over the weekend in private homes, all of which increases international goodwill and understanding and gives us more hope for a peaceful future.