860 United Nations Plaza

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860 United Nations Plaza, New York City, NY

860 United Nations Plaza

860 United Nations Plaza in Turtle Bay, Manhattan
Building Information
Developer Aluminum Company of America
Architect Harrison, Abramovitz & Harris
Number of Units 334
Number of Floors 40
Year Built 1966
Construction Method Concrete
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860 United Nations Plaza, New York City, NY
Distance to Public Transit Over 60 nearby routes
Region New York City
Municipality New York City
Zoning C5 - 2
Title of Land Cooperative



When the United Nations Headquarters was completed in 1952, this organization brought with it a sense of prestige to the neighborhood of Turtle Bay, a neighborhood once known for its decaying industrial buildings and crumbling tenement residences. This all changed with the arrival of the United Nations, and today Turtle Bay is home to numerous luxury condominiums, including Trump World Tower, Dag Hammarskjold Tower, the Alexander, and 100 United Nations Plaza. Predating all of those buildings is the twin towered structure located at 860 United Nations Plaza.

Built in the 1960s, this complex was one of the first buildings in New York City to have floor to ceiling windows, a design that was highly revolutionary at the time, and the luxurious apartments attracted many prestigious and famous residents, including Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Johnny Carson, Truman Capote, and Walter Cronkite.

The first major development on the East Side to employ the two tower design since the heyday of Central Park West, 860 United Nations Plaza also has the address of 870 United Nations Plaza, although the 860 is the more commonly cited address. The complex as a whole is also known colloquially as the U.N. Plaza Apartments.[1]


The United Nations Complex
Found across the street from the northern edge of the United Nations Headquarters complex, 860 United Nations Plaza finds itself in the neighborhood of Turtle Bay in Midtown, Manhattan. Named after the Turtle Bay Farm that sat on the land in the 17th century, the area was eventually subdivided into residential developments as a result of the implementation of Manhattan’s street grid pattern.

By the end of the American Civil War, Turtle Bay had transformed into a predominately industrial area, and immigrants flooded into the neighborhood looking for work. The combination of commercialization and poverty led to the eventual decline of the neighborhood and it wasn't until the 1920s that an effort, spearheaded by Charlotte Hunnewell Sorchan, was undertaken to revitalize the area. Sorchan’s project was the restoration of a series of brownstone townhouses that she named the Turtle Bay Gardens and sold to various public figures such as Katharine Kepburn, E.B. White, and Stephen Sondheim.

The arrival of the United Nations in 1952 ushered in a new level of prestige for Turtle Bay, and many luxurious condominium developments have followed in the decades since. Although there was a gentlemen’s agreement in place among builders in the area to not erect a structure higher than the UN Secretariat building, this agreement was broken in 2001 when Donald Trump built Trump World Tower, at the time the tallest residential building in the world. Since then, Turtle Bay has seen several more luxury condo developments, although none with such height.[2]

Turtle Bay is a relatively quiet residential neighborhood, with plenty of food and shopping options to serve both local residents and visitors alike. Although the Walk Score website lists over 60 nearby transit routes, it should be noted that 860 United Nations Plaza is several blocks away from any of New York City’s major subway lines.[3]


Plans for 860 United Nations Plaza were first imagined in 1947 by the Swiss/French architect, Le Corbusier, who was a consultant for the design of the United Nations Headquarters. Originally a project led by William Zeckendorf, the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) took over a controlling interest in the project after Zeckendorf’s departure, with the reminder of the project backed by Canbritam-New York Inc. and Orion-New York Inc.

The architectural firm of Harrison, Abramovitz & Harris provided the design of the building that featured twin box towers connected by a six story base. The twin tower concept was implemented to appease neighbors of nearby buildings who opposed the project on the basis of view obstruction. The design was also notable for being one of the first buildings in New York City to feature floor to ceiling windows across the entire exterior facade. While a common sight on buildings today, this was considered a bold design choice at the time of 860 United Nations Plaza’s development. Construction on this building began in 1965 and was completed in 1966, with the facade recently undergoing restoration work. [4]

Layout and Features

A duplex apartment within 860 United Nations Plaza

Standing 40 stories tall, 860 United Nations Plaza is a residential cooperative apartment building that holds 334 units across its two towers. These towers are connected by a six story base that holds 300,000 square feet of commercial office space.

While the two towers share the same lobby, each has its own foyer, elevator bank, and mail room, and there are numerous building staff on hand to help with whatever residents require. The complex takes up the entire block between East 48th, East 49th, First Avenue, and FDR Drive, and there is a long private driveway leads up to the entrance to the building. With its position overlooking the East River, residents of 860 United Nations Plaza enjoy some truly stunning views.

Within the building, 56 of the units are duplexes located in the upper floors of the towers, and the first 15 floors are comprised of one, two, and three bedroom units. Due to the building’s age, the details, finishes, and appliances within these units will vary widely due to individual owners’ renovations over the years, but the apartments all began with wooden parquet flooring.

The exterior glass curtain wall facade is inlaid with bronze aluminum borders, and create the floor to ceiling windows that residents enjoy to this day.[5]

Floor Plans

A selection of floor plans is presented.


860 United Nations Plaza is fully staffed, and residents enjoy many luxurious amenities, including:

  • 24 hour doorman
  • 24 hour concierge
  • Two lobby porters
  • Five handymen on staff
  • Fitness center
  • Two Pilates studios
  • Driving and putting range for golf
  • Roof deck
  • Library
  • On-site dry cleaner
  • Laundry facilities
  • Bike room
  • Parking garage
  • Private driveway
  • Storage facilities
  • Staff rooms[6]


860 United Nations Plaza Bylaws
Rentals Yes
Pets Yes
Age No
Barbecues No

  • This building allows rentals.
  • There are no age restrictions for this building.
  • This building is pet friendly.


Built in the 1960s, 860 United Nations Plaza was constructed long before the modern awareness and concern for sustainable living, and therefore this building is not designated as a green building.

Should residents wish to help increase the building’s overall sustainability, they can do so by making use of New York City’s recycling programs and by installing more energy efficient appliances.

Residents may use more environmentally friendly products when renovating their apartments and can choose walking or public transit instead of driving in order to reduce their carbon footprint.


Former resident Johnny Carson
  • Former residents of 860 United Nations Plaza include Truman Capote, Johnny Carson, Kay Graham, Dina Merrill, Cliff Robertson, Mickey Rooney, David Susskind, Vitas Gerulaitis, Gordon Parks, Michael Cimino, Gene Moore, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Walter Cronkite, Andre Kikoski, Joanna Simon, Hamilton Richardson, and Mary Lasker.
  • White collar criminal Alberto Vilar owned a large duplex apartment in this building. While he was arrested in 2005 for defrauding one of his clients out of $5 million, he previously made headlines when he campaigned for years against the development of Trump World Tower, a fight that he ultimately lost. Vilar was not successful in fighting his indictment either, has he was ultimately convicted and sentenced to nine years in prison.[7]
  • An April 2013 report labelled 860 United Nations Plaza as one of New York’s undervalued postwar coop buildings.[8]
  • The list of victims of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme includes those with addresses at both 860 and 870 United Nations Plaza.[9]


  1. Emporis
  2. Wikipedia - Turtle Bay, Manhattan
  3. Walk Score
  4. Cityrealty
  5. Street Easy
  6. 860 United Nations Plaza
  7. The Real Deal
  8. The Real Deal
  9. The Real Deal

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