Historic Churches of NYC

Here are six of the most noteworthy churches in NYC—they’re a must-see for anyone interested in the City’s historical and religious background.

Historic Churches of New York City
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New York City is full of rich history and numerous significant landmarks, from the Empire State Building to the Statue of Liberty. However, some of the most beautiful and pedigreed architecture that exists in New York City is displayed through its churches and cathedrals. Famous sanctuaries are abundant in NYC, some older, some newer, but all beautiful and historic.

Here are six of the most noteworthy churches in NYC—they’re a must-see for anyone interested in the City’s historical and religious background.

1. Trinity Church (79 Broadway) | Website

Though Trinity Church as an entity has been around since the 1600s, the current building was constructed in 1846. This historic church sits conveniently just across the street from TKC’s campus. The church is not only architecturally and aesthetically beautiful, but has a rich history—several famous early Americans are buried in the small attached cemetery, most notably founding father Alexander Hamilton. The church is still active, holding regular Episcopalian services, but for those who wish to visit rather than attend a service, the church is left open until the evening on weekdays. The cemetery is also open to the public during the day.

2. St. Patrick’s Cathedral (460 Madison Ave) | Website

Though it first opened its doors in the 1870s, this magnificent gothic cathedral feels much older. Reminiscent of ornate European cathedrals, St. Patrick’s is one of NYC’s most famous buildings. While the cathedral is currently undergoing extensive renovation, the church remains open and regular masses are still held. Though much of the impressive exterior is obscured by scaffolding during this construction, the interior of the church—with its breathtaking vaulting, impressive altar, and jewel-tone stained glass—is still well worth a trip (especially as it is conveniently right across the street from tourist hub Rockefeller Center).


3. Cathedral of St. John the Divine (1047 Amsterdam Avenue) | Website

Constructed in the early 1900s, this cathedral is not only beautiful, but famously huge, which is unusual for a building in NYC. In fact, it is one of the largest Christian cathedrals in the world. Though it’s a bit of a hike to Amsterdam Avenue, a visit to St. John is definitely worth your time—in addition to the building itself, the cathedral boasts a beautiful attached garden filled with statuary. As an added bonus, St. John is directly across the street from the quaint Hungarian Pastry Shop, which features a variety of delicious baked goods as well as the opportunity to enjoy authentic Hungarian coffee (this shop was a favorite haunt of A Wrinkle in Time author Madeleine L’Engle, while she lived, and is an excellent spot for contemplative writing or studying).

4. Abyssinian Baptist Church (132 Odell Clark Pl) | Website

This historical Harlem church was founded in 1808 as a reaction to segregation in surrounding churches and became the first African-American church in New York City. The congregation moved around to several different location until the 1920s, when the current building opened near Lenox Street in Harlem. Constructed in a Gothic/Tudor style, complete with intricate stained glass windows, Abyssinian is both aesthetically and historically significant. Theologian (and TKC house namesake) Dietrich Bonhoeffer visited this church in the 30s and was impressed by its life and spirit. Martin Luther King Jr. also preached there in 1965. Abyssian has played a crucial role in African-American history. Abyssinian permits tourists to attend its 11AM Sunday worship service.

5. St. Paul’s Chapel (209 Broadway) Website

The oldest church in Manhattan, St. Paul’s Chapel was constructed in 1764. Many congressmen and founding fathers—including George Washington–attended this church during their time in NYC. Located in the Financial District of lower Manhattan (barely a stone’s throw away from the TKC campus), this church is a popular tourist destination with a colonial feel to it. Arches, chandeliers, and wooden pews complete the look of the homey sanctuary (the powder blue walls are reminiscent of the Blue Room of the White House, which was built a few decades later). This NYC landmark is a must-see for history buffs.

6. St. Marks Church-in-the-Bowery (131 East 10th St) Website

First constructed in 1795, St. Mark’s is the second-oldest church in Manhattan. The church was restored and remodeled throughout the years so that it now boasts at least three different architectural styles, exemplifying both Georgian and federal with a Greek revival-style steeple. St. Mark’s has an artistic background, as it focused on cultural growth since its founding. Authors like Edna St. Vincent Millay and Carl Sandburg  spoke at symposiums the church held. This is definitely a beautiful, historic landmark worthy of a visit—especially for the artistic and creative types.


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