The area from 40th Street to 48th Street between Third Avenue and the river was originally know in 1639 as the Deutal Bay Farm and had a small bay with a prolific turtle population. In 1868 it was covered over and the North garden of the United Nations now stands on the site.
Today this thriving community boasts luxury apartment buildings, townhouses, excellent restaurants, quiet parks and many historical and landmarked sites.
Starting on 43rd Street between United Nations Plaza and Second Avenue is the landmarked Ford Foundation with a vast atrium. Across the street the United Nations spans from 42nd Street to 48th on First Avenue. One can visit and observe some of the sessions at this international institution dedicated to world peace. In the summer the lovely rose garden overlooking the East River is truly wonderful as is the Delegates’ Dining Room opened to the public Monday to Friday with a reservation.
Dag Hammarskjold Plaza is located on 47th from First to Second Avenues. The very active community association, the Turtle Bay Association, was instrumental in creating this park. With fountains and the beautiful Katharine Hepburn gardens it is a quiet respite from the bustle of NYC. It is also the venue of a green market, street fairs and cultural events. Sit quietly in the outdoor café under a market umbrella and enjoy some refreshments and a snack or go across 47th Street to the Japan Society for their exhibits and Zen Garden with an atrium waterfall.
Number 227 – 247 East 48th Street and 236-246 East 49th Streets are famous remodeled brownstones which surround a private common garden and are the former homes of Dorothy Thompson, Katharine Hepburn, Stephen Sondheim, Maggie Smith and Tyrone Power.
Also on 49th Street between Second and Third Avenues is the restored and reconstructed Amster Yard where small brick buildings surround a verdant courtyard. It is the home of the Instituto Cervantes which hosts lectures, art exhibits, poetry readings, language classes and cultural events.
For a specular view of the neighborhood go to the Top of the Tower in the Beekman Tower Hotel, one of the city’s great Art Deco skyscrapers. Enjoy a drink or some food and take in the special views of the UN gardens, East River and the rest of the surrounding area.
Not only is Turtle Bay an interesting place to visit and walk, but also a terrific place to live. Check out this apartment on 49th Street.