Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Trinity Church - New York City

Trinity Church, located at the intersection of Broadway and Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, New York City, 
may be in the most amazing setting for a church I’ve ever seen. 
It seems to me to be paradigmatic of the situation Christianity finds itself in today, 
hemmed in, encroached upon and seemingly overwhelmed 
by the modern world, but still defiantly sending its spire heaven-ward 
and maintaining a peace and serenity 
otherwise almost non-existent in the surrounding world, which in this case is the financial district of New York City, 
with the New York Stock Exchange just two short blocks away. 
The first Trinity Church was built in 1698. It was destroyed by fire in 1776 during the Revolutionary War. The second Trinity Church was finished in 1790, then torn down in 1839 after severe snowstorms weakened the structure. The third and current Trinity Church was completed in 1846. 
It was the highest point in New York City until 1890. Now I believe it is surrounded by buildings all taller than it. It is a beautiful example of Gothic Revival architecture. 
It is an Episcopal parish church in the Diocese of New York. 
When Judy and I stayed in New York recently, we stayed at the Wall Street Inn, itself just two blocks or so past the New York Stock Exchange. We took the subway from JFK airport and emerged to find Trinity about 6:00 a.m. on a cold morning. We took refuge inside the Church and had it all to ourselves, other than a couple of church employees. 
We came back later that morning, after dropping off bags at our hotel and taking a nap. 
We strolled the grounds, 
looking at the wonderful old graves. 
We found a monument for Robert Fulton, inventor of the steamship, but missed the grave of Alexander Hamilton who is also buried there. I loved the lines on the back of this statue.
This representation of Adam and Eve in the Garden seems very out of place. If any place in the world is un-Edenic, this is it. I guess it is a good place to represent the lone and dreary world.
I got a poor picture of the massive bronze doors on the front of the church, modeled after those done by  Ghiberti in the Baptistry in Florence. 
During the collapse of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, people took refuge from the debris cloud inside the church. Debris from the collapsing tower uprooted a sycamore tree at St. Paul's Chapel, part of Trinity's parish, located just a few blocks away. Steve Tobin used the roots of the tree as a base for a wonderful bronze sculpture that now stands next to Trinity. 
The sculpture would be perfect in front of a genealogical library. 


  1. I love your extended analogy at the beginning. This was a wonderful, complex place--so much to explore and think about.

  2. Very Cool! I enjoyed this. It's interesting to see things through your eyes. I have a new appreciation for things I am not educated in.

  3. love things of old ,and the way life was lived in times past from the writing on the old gravestones, to the gothic archaeology of the church. just the small things like the way the old timers used YE in the place of the word THE on the gravestones. this was fantastic, so thanks for sharing. LARRY jax,fl.