On my recent trip to New York City, I trekked out the United Nations building to send postcards from the U.N. post office. Before heading out there, I did a little research to see what stamps are available. The U.N. has its own postal system, so they have different stamps than the USPS. Also, there is only one U.N. post office in the U.S.A. – the one in New York City. There are two others – Switzerland and Austria. So that said, you can understand why for a collector, this is an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed, especially if you are already in the city for other reasons (like perhaps to see Hamilton! But I digress…)The United Nations building is on the 1st Ave and 42nd (approximately, it takes up several blocks). It’s on the East River – there’s not a lot out there for tourists, at least not that I found, so plan it as a side trip. We took the subway to Grand Central Station (42nd and Lexington) and walked to 1st. As you pass the Visitor’s Check-in at 801 1st, go in and get your security badge and/or wrist band – this building is not well marked and it is across the street (on the west side of 1st) from the UN building. Then, cross the street to the security gate, go through the metal detectors, have your bags x-rayed, go through the turnstile and then walk across the courtyard to the main entrance.
The building itself is beautiful and spacious inside. I was amazed as to how peaceful it all felt, especially after walking around NYC for the last few days. The post office, souvenir shop, book shop and coffee shop are all downstairs. The souvenir shop had a few postcards (similar to the one’s sold at all other NYC souvenir shops). The post office is across from the souvenir shop. They sell UN specific postcards (like of Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon), collectible stamp sheets, as well as individual stamps from the cashier. The individual stamps are plainer (although not plain) than the collectible stamps – but the stamp sheets are pricey, so consider yourself warned.
I had my heart set on the Angry Birds stamps, so I bit the bullet and bought the whole sheet. The cashier looked at me as if I was crazy, knowing I was going to tear up the sheet to mail postcards (the value on the stamps is $1.1.5 and postcard postage was a mere 37¢, so yes I was a little crazy). The tables at the coffee shop are great for sitting and writing postcards – and the food at the coffee shop is very reasonably priced (I expected much higher). There are two blue mailboxes by the post office. I am not sure what the difference is – I chose to mail my postcards from the one with flags – because it made a better picture 😉
One more recommendation. For a small fee, the cashier at the post office will stamp passports. If you collect stamps in your passport (I wish I had had mine with me), it is worth it. HOWEVER, if you do not have your passport with you (wink, wink), the cashier will stamp the back of a postcard for free! YAY!