By Carter B. Horsley
The very tall Gothic Revival,
of Trinity Church at Broadway and Wall Street is one of New York's
greatest landmarks for its architecture, its history and its
associations with the international images of Wall Street as the
financial center of the world.
Its isolated splendor at the
foot of Wall Street
is greatly enhanced by its very large, surrounding cemetery that
gives it extraordinary "light and air." Although the
former Irving Trust Building at One Wall Street surpassed the
church in height, it did not overwhelm it and the church's open
space is one of the most impressive in New York especially because
the north and south sides have spectacular Gothic Revival-style,
limestone-clad buildings with wonderful detailing that significantly
augment the elegance of this major urban place.
When the present church was
Ascension Day, May 1, 1845, its neo-Gothic spire, topped by a
gilded cross, dominated the Lower Manhattan skyline. It was designed
by Richard Upjohn in Gothic Revival style.
The church had been founded by
a charter of
King William III of England in 1687 with an annual rent of one
peppercorn and its parish has been a significant force in the
religious and architectural history of the city as it aided more
than 1,700 churches, schools, hospitals and other institutions
and will owns a very impressive real estate portfolio.
It had the city's first
ministry for African-Americans,
starting in 1705, the same year that Queen Anne granted the church
more land that increased its holdings to about 215 acres.
In 1709, William Huddleston
School as the Charity School of the church and classes were originally
held in the church's steeple.
In 1750, its steeple and its
school were destroyed
by a fire and the steeple was rebuilt in 1762.
In 1754, King's College (now
was chartered by King George II of Great Britain and started classes
with eight students in a building near the church.
The graveyard includes the
graves and memorials
of many important New Yorkers such as Alexander Hamilton, Albert
Gallatin, and Robert Fulton. Hamilton was the first treasurer
of the United States and the founder of the Bank of New York.
His memorial was created in 1804.
Revolutionary War, several
members of the church at members of the First and Second Continental
Congresses but the clergy is on the side of the crown. In September,
1776, the original church and its charity school are destroyed
the state ratifies
the church's charger deleting its provision that asserted loyalty
to the King of England.
after his inauguration
at Federal Hall, one block to the west, George Washington attends
Thanksgiving service at St. Paul's Chapel of the church, several
blocks to the north on Broadway. St. Paul's Chapel is the oldest
public building in continuous use in the city.
the second church,
which was consecrated in 1790, is torn down.
the church's Cemetery
is established on 23 acres on land that was part of the estate
of John James Aububon, the great painter of birds and animals,
at 155th Street and Riverside Drive.
In 1919, the church abolishes
of charging for its pews.
In the Depression, the church
users its properties
as hostels for the homeless.
In 1946, the church purchases
470 acres in
West Cornwall, Connecticut, along the Housatonic River as a camp
and meeting facility.
In 1969, it starts its Noonday
On July 9, 1976, Queen
Elizabeth II is presented
with symbolic "back rent" of 279 peppercorns on her
visit to the church.
In 1988, it founds John Heuss
House at 42 Beaver
Street, a 24-hour center for the homeless.
The church building has
and its distinctive dark brown stone presents a warm and handsome
contrast to the limestone facades of the surrounding office district.
In fact, its site is probably the city's second finest architectural
space as all of the surrounding buildings are of very high quality
and only Rockefeller Plaza is better.
The building on the south side
from an office building to a rental apartment building in 1998
and no other apartment building in New York City has comparably
dramatic views with the possible exception of Olympic Tower just
to the north of St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Cathedral on Fifth
Avenue at 51st Street.
Waterfront locations have their
allure as do
those that front on parks, but both often do not offer central,
convenient locations and their views may be beautiful but not
dramatic. The building on the south side almost makes the facades
of the best Fifth Avenue apartment buildings pale in comparison
was erected in 1897 and was designed by Francis Kimball of Kimball
& Thompson. From 1901 to 1976, it was the headquarters of
U. S. Steel. It is the best
of the second-generation
of converted office buildings in Lower Manhattan that began to
flourish in the mid- and late 1990's. The first generation, dating
back to the 1980's, included 55 Liberty Street, a very fine skyscraper
a few blocks away that is a slightly more impressive building
but hemmed in by other major buildings.
While the first generation of
suffered from a lack of residential neighborhood services, the
newer crop has led the way to a significant increase of such amenities
in the area. New restaurants and stores have opened and the vast
and very impressive residential development at Battery Park City
along the Hudson River just to the west has buttressed the
of the downtown business district to a mixed-use enclave of
diversity that has been also aided by the attractions of the South
Street Seaport along the East River and the creation in the late
1990's of several
the foot of Broadway to the south.
It would be misleading, of
course, to proclaim
this as the city's most exciting residential neighborhood as it
still needs an infusion of more restaurants, markets and stores,
and the completion of many major construction projects, but from
an architectural viewpoint it is without peer.
The great Art Deco tower of 1
Wall Street rose
taller than the church's steeple but its slender, fluted form
and light color did not overwhelm the church's architecture.