St. Paul’s Chapel in New York City: Building

St. Paul’s Chapel in Manhattan, New York City Church Building Image, Architecture

St. Paul’s Chapel in New York City

NYC Religious Building, NY, USA – design by architect Thomas McBean, built by master craftsman Andrew Gautier

Jun 30, 2017

St. Paul’s Chapel in Manhattan

St. Paul’s Chapel New York City

This chapel has an incredible history that makes it truly an iconic NYC building.

Grand Opening of St. Paul’s Chapel, 1766:
St. Paul's Chapel New York City

Eight events that go to show how the chapel truly is an iconic New York City building

St. Paul’s Chapel in New York celebrated its 250th anniversary last year.

The chapel on lower Manhattan was once the tallest building in New York City.

Over the centuries the buildings around it grew taller, but the chapel was still the centre of major historic events.

Modest in size but mighty in importance, the chapel survived the Great Fire of New York, welcomed the first president of the United States to worship, served as a sanctuary at the time of the 9/11 attacks and showed its support for people with all beliefs by standing against Trump’s travel ban this February.

Here are a few events that go to show how the chapel truly is an iconic New York City building.

1. Once it was the tallest building in New York City.

When St. Paul’s Chapel was built in 1766, it was the tallest building in New York City.

2. The chapel has its paragon in London.

St. Paul’s Chapel was in fact built on land granted from Queen Anne, and modelled after James Gibbs’ church, St Martin-in-the-Fields in London, by architect Thomas McBean.

3. It was the place where George Washington, America’s first president, often worshipped.

On his inauguration day April 30th 1789, he and several members of the United States Congress walked from Federal Hall on Wall Street to worship at St. Paul’s Chapel. Whilst the second Trinity Church was being rebuilt after its destruction during the Great Fire of 1776, many churchgoers, including George Washington regularly attended services at St. Paul’s Chapel and made it their church home.

Great Fire of New York, 1776:
St. Paul's Chapel New York City

4. The chapel survived Great Fire of New York in 1776 and 9/11 Attacks in 2001.

When the Great Fire of New York in 1776 burn down a third of the city, the chapel amazingly survived. When the 9/11 attacks happened in 2001, the chapel remained miraculously intact even though it was located right opposite to the Twin Towers. That was the time the chapel got its nickname “The Little Chapel That Stood”.

Wall Street Crash, 1929:
St. Paul's Chapel New York City

5. The surroundings of the chapel have been the stage of numerous massive demonstrations.

When the Wall Street stock market crashed in 1929 and the economy plummeted, people in lower Manhattan took to the streets and marched to the New York Stock Exchange to protest. Decades later, Gulf War and America’s involvement in Iraq upset many Americans that expressed their worry about losses of civilian lives and destruction caused by Kuwait oil fires. New York Magazine 1991 recalls a particular rally of people in front of St. Paul’s Chapel who protested against the war whilst the ticker tape parade occurred in Upper Manhattan, celebrating the soldiers who’d just returned home.

Petit Performs His Stunt at The World Trade Center 1974:
St. Paul's Chapel New York City building

6. It’s been a true safe-haven for New Yorkers.

After the 9/11 Attacks, St. Paul’s Chapel became a safe-haven for those who participated in the rescue searches, with many entering the chapel to seek respite. St. Paul’s Chapel provided round-the-clock-relief to the rescue and recovery workers over the course of 9 months. Many of the churches’ pews have markings of heavy boots worn by firefighters who rested there. Both national and international support flooded the church, with countries and states sending banners of encouragement and peace cranes, telling New York City to keep their heads up and to find hope even in the darkest of times. The Chapel still has these messages on display in memory of 9/11.

St. Paul's Chapel interior New York City
interior photo – CC BY-SA 3.0 Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 truetrue (Contributed by author.) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

7. The chapel continues to be the place where the fallen heroes of 9/11 are being remembered.

St. Paul’s Chapel continues to host memorial services in remembrance of those who lost their lives on September 11. In 2006, President George W. Bush, Senator Hillary Clinton, Governor George Pataki, and Mayors Michael Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani attended a memorial service hosted at St. Paul’s chapel. Among the pews inside of the chapel, several displays honor the fallen heroes of 9/11.

St. Paul’s Chapel Manhattan building |
building photo by Martin Furtschegger, CC BY 3.0,

8. “Jesus Was a Refugee” – The chapel stands for diversity and inclusiveness, and showed it by protesting against Trump’s travel ban.

2017 brought many people out onto the streets of New York City to protest against Donald Trump’s travel ban. On Wednesday, February 1st, bishops and clergy from the dioceses of New York, Long Island and New Jersey gathered at St. Paul’s to stand against President Trump’s executive order targeting Muslims. The church welcomes diversity and is inclusive to all communities, which led the Episcopalians to stand opposed to the exclusion of civilians of different beliefs. Over 70 Episcopalians met at the Chapel before marching to Foley Square. They carried Episcopal flags and signs with bible verses such as “I Was a Stranger & You Welcomed Me” and powerful statements like “Jesus was a Refugee”. Throughout the years, St. Paul’s Chapel’s has expanded along with the city, focusing on community outreach, serving the needs of immigrants, working women and the homeless.

Website: St. Paul’s Chapel in New York City

Location: St. Paul’s Chapel, New York City, USA

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