Churches, New York City
From Mulberry Street you'll see the signs for the church. You walk down a path lined with flowers and religious statues. The entrance to the church is a plain wood door. When you open the door and step inside you find a pretty church. The intimate interior gives no indication of the many worshippers who come here during Little Italy's annual San Gennaro Feast.
The Church of the Most Precious Blood was established in 1888 to serve the Italian immigrants in Lower Manhattan, who were not welcomed at other churches in the area. Property for a church of their own was purchased by the Scalabrini Fathers and building of the lower church started in 1891. In 1894 the Scalabrini Fathers ran out of funding and the Franciscans took over and finished building the church. Today this Roman Catholid church houses the National Shrine to San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples.
The church was fully renovated in 1995, receiving a completely new interior.
Sat: 5:30 p.m.
Sun: 9 a.m.; 12 noon; 2 p.m. [Vietnamese]
Weekday: Mon thru Fri: 9 a.m. Mon thru Sat: 12:10 p.m.
Holy day & Vigil: 7:30, 8 a.m.; 12:10 p.m. Vigil: 5:30 p.m.
Confessions: Before morning Masses or by appointment
This beautiful Gothic church is the 2nd church at the current site. The previous church was destroyed by fire in 1905. The first service in the new church took place on October 4, 1913. The church will be marking the centennial with events through 2013-2014.
The church is built entirely of stone. Inside the nave vault rises 95 feet above the ground. The size, spacing, and number of columns and arches give it unique acoustical properties associated with churches from the Middle Ages. The most beautiful part of the church is the reredos, which is one of the largest in the world.
The church is a few blocks from St. Patrick's and well worth a visit! It's open every day year-round. There are guided tours on most Sundays following the 11 a.m. mass.
Trinity Church was meant to be a personal highlight of my visit to New York. I've always wanted to see it: This little old Anglican church, looking like something plucked from a quiet English village, planted in the centre of downtown Manhattan under the towering skyscrapers. We'd even recreated the entire church in one of the levels for our game: Crysis 2.
Unfortunately, like the sheeted Brooklyn Bridge, and the closed Ellis Island, I was disappointed to discover it was covered in scaffolding. Worse still the day I visited it was closed for a wedding so I couldn't even enter to see what it was like inside. So a major disappointment for me, but not something likely to affect anyone else.
St. Thomas is a beautiful Episcopal church with impressive exterior ornamentation and one of the largest reredos in the world. Constructed in the French High Gothic style, it was designed by the architects of Cram, Goodhue and Ferguson and completed in 1913. The delicate, soaring reredos, carved of Dunville stone, contains statues of Christ, saints, martyrs, apostles and other figures relevant to the Christian religion and/or important to the church. George Washington is among them too - see if you can find him!
Other items of interest include:
• The Canterbury Stone - a section of wall from England's Canterbury Cathedral that Saint Thomas à Becket fell against after he was martyred by King Henry II's solders in 1170. The stone is in the floor at the top of the chancel steps.
• "The Adoration of the Magi" - thought to be by Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens
• Gorgeous rose window
• Chantry chapel with carved oak, gilt and polychromed triptych
St. Thomas also has a world-famous choir and choir school, and an organ with 9050 pipes so is a good choice for music-lovers. See the church website for more history, information on services, and choir or organ recital schedules. Museum Planet also has a great on-line gallery of images with audio narration: www.museumplanet.com/tour.php/nyc/st/1
The large Gothic Church of Saint Paul the Apostle was built in 1885 for the Catholic Paulist Fathers. It is said that the design was inspired by early Christian basilicas in Ravenna (though without mosaics), and contains numerous side chapels. Although largely unknown and ignored by visitors, the interior of the church is very rich in artwork by notable American artists. The artwork within this church happens to be the most beautiful I have seen among New York's churches, making St Paul the Apostle well worth a detour. When I visited in October 2009, the church was about to be covered in scaffolding for a restoration project.
This stunning Italianate church is part of the Jesuits complex and school of Saint Francis Xavier. Although the apostolate was founded in 1847, it was not until 1882 that this church and the adjacent school were built. The Jesuits chose an Irish-born architect, Patrick C. Keely, known for designing numerous churches in New York, Boston and Chicago, for the project. He opted for an Italian Renaissance-Baroque style, with a beautifully decorated interior, containing frescoes, Corinthian columns and a coffered ceiling. For a while in recent memory, the church had remained neglected and blackened by pollution, but major restoration work has just been completed. The restored façade was unveiled in late 2009, but the interior was not finished until 2010.
When Chafin mentioned he was going to take us to the biggest cathedral in the United States, I thought it might still be a bit small compared with some of the humongous European cathedrals I've had a chance to visit. You can therefore imagine my surprised when I walked into one of the largest Christian churches in the world! Saint John the Divine was designed in 1888 and construction began in 1892 in the Morningside Heights area under Bishop Henry Codman Potter, whose prime objective was that his future cathedral be bigger and better than St. Patrick's Cathedral on Fifth Avenue - and he was partly successful in this. During the course of its construction, which was delayed on several occasions, the original Byzantine Romanesque design was changed to Gothic Revival, and a succession of architects over the past century has resulted in a unique blend of architectural styles. The cathedral remains to this day unfinished; however, there's still plenty to be seen: there are some beautiful stained glass windows, seven chapels and, my favourite feature, the American poets' corner. Different guided tours are offered, including one that takes you up to the roof of the cathedral, something that I fully intend on doing next time I'm in New York City. The gardens next to the cathedral are also worth visiting. It's interesting to know that if they ever do finish it according to plans, Saint John the Divine will become the biggest cathedral in the entire world.
New York's oldest surviving building, Saint Paul's Chapel was built in 1764. It has a Neoclassical façade topped by a spire, inspired by Saint-Martin-in-the-Fields in London, albeit using the local New York brownstone as building material. This style of churches was popular in New England at the time. The interior of the church is very Georgian, with Corinthian columns and a barrel vaulted ceiling. Saint Paul's Chapel is separated from the World Trade Center site by a cemetery, yet the church was miraculously untouched during the collapse of the twin towers.
Consecrated in 1939, the Church of Saint Andrew was designed in a Georgian revival style to complement the government buildings nearby. It was built as a replacement to the original Gothic-style Church of St Andrew, which dated from 1818. It is a Roman Catholic church.
Designed by the English-born architect, Joseph Wells, the First Presbyterian Church is said to have been modelled after the Church of Saint Saviour in Bath, England. It was completed in 1846 in this beautiful Gothic Revival style, but using New York's brownstone. Prior to its construction, the First Presbyterian Church, which was first founded in 1716, was located on Wall Street.
This stunning church is an interesting mix of Gothic and Art Déco styles. It was designed by Bertram Goodhue, who also designed St Bart's and worked on St Thomas Church, and was completed in 1929, a few years after the architect's death. The interior is rather dark, but has a lofty vaulted ceiling, beautiful stained glass windows and Art Déco sculptures in the altar. The church serves the Episcopalian (Protestant) community.
Hidden in a side street between Fifth and Madison Avenues in the Upper East Side, the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas is a unique example of Russian church architecture in New York City. The structure is complete with multiple onion domes topped by Russian crosses. It was built in 1902 to serve the then growing Russian Orthodox community that once lived in this area.
Combining Byzantine and Romanesque styles, Christ Church is a breathtaking church in the Upper East Side. It was built in 1931 following the design by Ralph Adams Cram, who also designed Saint Thomas Church and the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in Manhattan. The interior contains the most elaborate mosaic work of the 20th century, covering the entire vaulted ceilings and apse with glass from Venice. The church serves the United Methodist community and is located on Park Avenue and 60th Street.
This neo-Gothic church was built in 1920 as a Baptist Church. Construction was financed by the Rockefeller family and designed by the architects Allen & Collens and Hency C. Pelton. In 1929, the Baptists moved to another larger edifice and sold this church to the current occupants, the Central Presbyterian Church. The latter was established in 1821 but moved to different churches several times before finally settling in this church. The Central Presbyterian Church is located on Park Avenue at 64th Street.
A masterpiece of Gothic Revival architecture, Grace Church is one of New York's most beautiful churches. The Episcopalian (i.e. Protestant) church was built in 1846 after the design by the then upcoming young architect James Renwick, Jr., whose later works included Saint Patrick's Cathedral and the Smithsonian Institution Castle. The interior of the church is beautiful and includes breathtaking stained glass windows. Much of the carvings in its exterior are in fact plaster made to look like carved stone similar to mediaeval churches in Europe. For a country with little ancient architecture, Grace Church is certainly a treasure. It is a listed as a National Historic Landmark.