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Short URL
Trinity Church Trinity Church, Wall Street
Broadway and Wall Street New York
New York  state
United States  country
North America  continent
Main date(s)
40.708084° N, 74.012119° W
Free admission and tours; $2 suggested donation for noonday concerts
212-602-0800 (general) 212-602-0872 (tour reservations) 212-602-0747 (concert information)

Description of Trinity Church

The exterior, a striking medieval element in an otherwise Neo-Classical and modern city, has all the features of a traditional Gothic church: flying buttresses, delicate tracery, stained glass windows, pointed arches and Gothic-style sculpture. Its most striking feature is the west spire, which rises to 281 feet. For many years it was the tallest building in Manhattan.

The only non-traditional feature of Trinity Church is the material: a warm brownstone that was normally used only when builders could not afford marble, granite or limestone. Since the ultra-wealthy Trinity Church could have afforded these better materials, the use of brownstone was almost certainly an aesthetic choice by the architect. It reflects the Romantic movement of the time, in which earth-toned building materials were preferred as more "picturesque" and "natural."

The bronze doors, paid for by William Waldorf Astor, were modeled on Lorenzo Ghiberti's famous doors on the Florence Baptistery. They were designed by Richard Morris Hunt; Karl Bitter won the competition for the execution. From top to bottom, the panels of the left door depict The Throne of Heaven; The Empty Tomb; and The Expulsion from Eden; the right door depicts The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse; The Annunciation; and Jacob's Ladder.

The Gothic Revival interior is light and elegant, leading to a colorful wall of stained glass behind the altar. The chancel window, one of the first American artworks in stained glass, was designed by Upjohn himself. It had to be made in Germany since no American artist possessed the necessary skills at the time.

The chancel screen was donated by Jacob and William Astor in memory of their father and designed by Frederick C. Withers. It is made of Caen stone and marble.

The south side of the church contains the Monument Room, which Upjohn set aside for memorials so they would not disfigure the nave. At the end of the north aisle is a small museum displaying historical documents (including the charter from King William III), photographs, replicas of the Hamilton-Burr duel pistols, and other items.

Holly Hayes
October 27, 2011

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