St. Paul's Chapel

St. Paul's Chapel is the oldest surviving church building in Manhattan. I visited the church during my  trip to the Ground Zero in March. 

Built on Georgian architectural style, the  boxy church's main feature is the tall octagonal steeple and a portico supported by two columns. Made largely of bricks, the church also has a burial ground in its front yard that still bears the tombstones of the prominent people buried there.

The burial ground 

The interior was simple. The ceiling, painted blue, is semi-rounded vault supported by several columns. The walls and the columns are painted in pale colors. The altar is on the other end of the hall, and the nave and hall are lighted by several glass-cut chandeliers that evoke 18th century America.

Interior of the church
The Episcopal  church figured a lot in American history.  It  was built in 1764, on a land grant given by Anne, Queen of Great Britain (and daughter of King James, a Catholic king deposed during the Glorious Revolution). George Washington said to have worshipped in the church on his inauguration day.

Known as "The Little Chapel that Stood," the church also survived many tumultuous events in history. It survived the great fire of 1776, which burned one-fourth of Manhattan to the ground. The fire happened during the British occupation of the island following the revolutionary war. 

The Flag of Honor, which contains the names of the victims of 9-11 attacks

It also survived another event decades later, when the World Trade Center was attacked. The rear of the church is located on Church street, which is opposite from WTC. When the towers collapsed, the church became a refuge for the victims of the attack [1]. 

The church itself was left unscathed by the crumbling debris. A sycamore tree on the churchyard buttressed the falling debris, sparing the church from damage.

Teddy bears sent to honor the responders of 9-11

On the hours and days following the attacks, makeshift memorials to honor the victims were erected inside the church. The memorials - containing items such as police patches and teddy bears bearing messages of hope sent from around the world - are now preserved in the church, and are on public display. 

There was no service when I entered the church. I went around inside to admire its architecture, and to see the memorials. Even though I am not an American, I still choked up a bit when I thought about what happened on that fateful day. 

How to Get There
The church is located in 209 Broadway, between Fulton and Vesey Streets. It is accessible via the E train (get off at World Trade Center stop). 

Useful Info


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