EARLY CHURCHES OF NEW YORK CITY



Saint Paul's Chapel was constructed from 1764 – 1766.  The church’s Georgian interior was designed by Pierre L’Enfant, the French architect who also designed Washington, DC.  Fourteen cut-glass Waterford chandeliers (brought from Ireland in 1802) light the church and its windows are hand-blown frosted glass.  George Washington worshiped at Saint Paul’s and attended a service here following his inauguration as President on April 30, 1789.   

The church is the oldest public building still in use in Manhattan and the borough's only pre-Revolutionary War church.   At the end of the American Revolutionary War in December 1783, Washington and the American troops would return to the City in a triumphal procession marching down Broadway past St. Paul’s.  Behind the Chapel – facing Church Street -- is a small graveyard.   The entrance seen here was once the original entrance facing the Hudson River.  The Broadway entrance now serves as the main one. 

The chapel was dwarfed by the construction of the World Trade Center’s gigantic twin towers (completed in 1977) which were across the street from its graveyard.   Miraculously, Saint Paul’s Chapel stood standing as the twin towers crumbled around it on September 11, 2001.  Rescue workers, firefighters and police officers found shelter and solace at the Chapel during the terrible hours following 9/11 and Saint Paul’s has become a shrine for those who wish to remember the victims of 9/11.  Remembrances and memorials, placed on a fence in front of the church, are now part of a special exhibit inside the church. 

September 11th was not the first time Saint Paul’s had survived difficult times; a September fire in 1776 destroyed Trinity Church and other areas of downtown Manhattan, but Saint Paul, saved by a bucket brigade, was not damaged. 




Subpages (1): TRINITY CHURCH
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