The United Nations was created to replace war and bloodshed with dialogue and compromise. But the five avenues west of the UN’s East River location have been home to over 350 years of war history. From decapitations to anti-war rioting, these five avenues are a reminder of the violence that the UN was established to prevent.
1. Park Avenue, 1919
A pyramid of 85,000 German army helmets from WWI. Photo via Smithsonian Institution.
Five avenues west of the United Nations is Park Avenue, today the home of Grand Central Terminal and a slew of corporate headquarters. In 1919, it was the home of two enormous pyramids made of German army helmets. 85,000 German army helmets, to be exact. After the Allies won the First World War, American soldiers captured the helmets in a supply depot in Europe and brought them back to the States. Then the American government displayed them outside Grand Central Terminal to convince New Yorkers flush with pride to buy war bonds. German helmets were also awarded as prizes to government workers who successfully sold the bonds.