Trinity Church, located at 74 Trinity Place at Broadway and Wall Street, New York City, is a historic full service parish church in the Episcopal Diocese of New York. The Parish of Trinity Church was founded by charter of King William III of England in 1697, and three church buildings have existed on its location. The original Trinity Church finished construction in 1698 and appeared modest in design. Unfortunately, this first church was destroyed in 1776 by a massive fire stemming from an American Revolution battle. The second church building was built in 1790 but it could not withstand subsequent harsh winters, and subsequently had to be torn down.
The present Trinity Church, designed by Richard Upjohn and consecrated on Ascension Day in 1846, is considered a classic example of Gothic Revival architecture and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
At the time the church was built, its 281 foot spire and cross stood as the highest point in New York City.
Lower Manhattan has since grown up around the church, and it has been dwarfed by the large skyscrapers that surround it.
As you can see from the view of the picture at left, the World Trade Center towers, which were destroyed by an act of terrorism on September 11, 2001, were located only a few blocks NW from Trinity Church.
As you walk through the front gates surrounding the church building you will immediately see this sculpture to the left. This 18 foot tall bronze sculpture of a sycamore's tree's roots structure was made by the artist Steve Tobin. It commemorates the sycamore tree in nearby St. Paul's church grounds which is known as “the tree that saved St. Paul’s Chapel,” because it took the brunt of damage from debris falling from the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, while the chapel remained relatively unscathed. The artist saw the uprooted tree roots as a metaphor for our unity and our strength after the tragic events of 9/11.
As you walk up the steps at the front of the church you will see this plaque embedded in the floor in front of the entrance. It commemorates the visit on July 9, 1976 of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth.
Left front door
Right front door
The great bronze front door's of Trinity Church were designed by Richard Morris Hunt, are a memorial to John Jacob Astor III in 1896. They each weigh several tons, and depict biblical scenes. A view inside the church. The nave windows contain some of the oldest stained glass in the United States, and the Chancel windows were once the largest expanse of stained glass windows in the United States at the time of installation, The altar is made from sandstone and Italian marble, and was a memorial to William B Astor, a son of John Jacob Astor. Within the church walls are a Baptistery, an All Saints Chapel, a North and a South Monument Room, and a museum.
There are two organs -- one located in the Chancel and one in the Gallery. After the dust, smoke and ash of 9/11 destroyed the pipe organ, it was replaced with a Marshall and Ogletree virtual pipe organ.
This is a door leading from the side of the church into the churchyard.
There are two churchyards on either side of Trinity Church which contain cemeteries. The burial grounds have been the final resting place for many historic figures including Alexander Hamilton, William Bradford, Robert Fulton, and Albert Gallatin, since the Churchyard cemetery opened in 1697. A non-denominational cemetery, it is listed in the United States National Register of Historic Places.
The Northside churchyard contains the oldest grave in New York City, dated 1681, that of five year old Richard Churcher.
ALEXANDER HAMILTON (GRAVE & MONUMENT)1804
The best known of thousands buried in Trinity Churchyard, Alexander Hamilton occupies a place in the annals of the nation's history, and its historical imagination. He was the first treasurer of the United States and the founder of The Bank of New York, the nation's oldest commercial lender. His likeness appears on the ten-dollar bill.
Wounded in a pistol duel with longtime foe Aaron Burr, Hamilton died in the pastoral care of the Episcopal Bishop of New York, Benjamin Moore, who was also the Rector of Trinity Church.
WILLIAM BRADFORD 1752
Known as “The Father of American printing,” William Bradford established the American colony’s first press, in Philadelphia, after his emigration from England in 1683. He became a fierce defender of press freedom. Bradford moved to New York in 1703, where he became a Trinity Vestryman. Under Trinity’s auspices he created the first edition of the Book of Common Prayer to be printed in America in 1710.
ROBERT FULTON 1815
While not the first to build a steamboat, Robert Fulton navigated the concept to practical success, with his boat Clermont traveling the Hudson from New York City to Albany in 1807.
Fulton married Harriet Livingston at Trinity on January 7, 1808. The steamboat pioneer is buried in the churchyard’s Livingston vault. A monument was erected to his memory by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1901.
ALBERT GALLATIN 1849
A Statesman, Albert Gallatin served under the first six presidents of The United States as a member of Congress, author of the Treaty of Ghent, Minister to France, envoy to Britain, and Secretary of Treasury. He was a founder of New York University.
Some pictures of other interesting old gravestones in the Trinity churchyard:
Trinity Church is a beautiful and fascinating place, and I hope you will consider visiting it if you are in New York City.
I'll continue my "Day in Lower New York" blog next time with a visit to St. Paul's Chapel, Manhattan's oldest public building in continuous use.