Isle Eyed For UN Site
Island Dispatch - January 20, 1989
by Marion E. Klingel (taken from newspaper story of January 1946)
Posted By Teddy Linenfelser on August 10, 2006
Scroll down for Marion E. Klingel's personal comments on the subject
The year was 1946 when an international committee, seeking a site for the proposed United Nations Organization headquarters, considered having it constructed on Grand Island.
A statement sent to the Preparatory Commission, citing the advantages of the Island, pointed out the town "offers the required facilities in a region rich in historical and cultural associations . . . and would have as a site for the United Nations Organizations a dignity and character of its own." (Developers, please note!)
"Placing it on Grand Island (and/or Navy Island) with its two connecting bridges, approachable as it is through either Canada or the United States, very definitely permits the retention of whatever international character the members of the UNO may wish to preserve or develop," the Commission stated.
Also, "It is believed that if desired, temporary buildings and homes could be erected on Grand Island as quickly and probably more quickly than at almost any other site. The land is generally level: excellent highways permit prompt access to any section. Only a few farmhouses and small summer cottages - none of any size - would have to be razed. Water, natural gas and electrical facilities are immediately available and sanitary equipment could be installed very quickly.
The report went on to mention, "Adequate and suitable temporary accommodations for meetings, assemblies' committee rooms, staff offices and living quarters are immediately available in the City of Buffalo and in other localities throughout the Niagara area which can be used until the permanent buildings are constructed and become available on Grand Island and/or Navy Island.
The statement was signed by Roy H. Davis, Chauncey J. Hamlin and John A. Williamson for the international committee.
(Marion E. Klingel's personal comments on the subject)
Actually, Grand Island in 1946 could boast of more than "a few farmhouses and small summer cottages." Two subdivisions, Sandy Beach and Grandyle Village, had been developed within the ten years prior to 1946. The advent of Sandy Beach in 1938 and Grandyle in 1942 resulted in a population increase from 626 in 1930 to 3081 in 1950.
Summer homes in Ferry Village and along east and west shores of the Niagara River had rapidly been converted into year 'round residences. And plans for doubling the capacity of the town's one school, Charlotte Sidway, were on the drawing board and a second school, Kaegebein, opened six years later.
Nevertheless, the United Nations venture, like erecting a bridge from Grand Island to Canada and having the New York Central run railroad trains across the center of town and into Canada, became just another dream that never materialized.
Editor's Note: Marion E. Klingel served as town historian for Grand Island, N. Y. from 1962-1998.