TRINITY CHURCH, one of the oldest churches in the
United States, was established in 1697 as the first Episcopal church in New York.
During a battle of the American Revolutionary War, the original church
was destroyed by fire in 1776 and rebuilt in 1790. Heavy snows damaged its structure during the
bad winters of 1838-39 and the church was eventually torn down. The current Neo-Gothic design by architect,
Richard Upjohn, was completed in 1846. Amazingly,
281 foot spire (22 stories high) was the highest point in Manhattan then and would remain so until 1890.
The brown stones of New Jersey sandstone to build the church were
hoisted by marine equipment loaned by Captain William Kidd, the
Trinity’s first rector was Reverend William Vesey for whom the nearby Vesey Street is named. Alexander Hamilton and his family worshipped at Pew 99 at Trinity and Hamilton also did free legal work for the church. Both Hamilton and Robert Fulton, an inventor responsible for the first successful steamboat line, are buried here. In 2006, a British bell-ringing lover gave Trinity a million-dollar donation for the restoration of a hand-rung (rope-pulling) bell system. A new bell system of 12 hand-pulled bells replaced mechanical bells that were installed after World War II. (The heaviest bell weighs 2,700 pounds.)