Ground Zero: Saint Paul’s Chapel

New York City is a study in contrast. The oldest and the newest, the tallest and the shortest can share a property line.

Directly Behind Ground Zero and the Hilton Millenium Hotel is Saint Paul’s Chapel. It’s a small chapel that was in the shadow of the World Trade Center. It was called “The little church that withstood 9-11”. Indeed, due to its proximity (other buildings just as close, bigger and newer were destroyed) we thought it couldn’t possibly survive. It stood unscathed. It is old and has seen a lot. This is a church that walks the walk. It led the way on providing comfort and help after 9-11. I’ve always had the greatest respect for this church. One of the images that haunted me since 9-11 was the photo of the cemetary hip deep in paper and debris. When the towers came down we all assumed that the church was destroyed. Almost miraculously when the smoke and dust cleared it stood there unscathed, a continuing witness to history since 1766.

Located directly across from the World Trade Center site, St. Paul’s Chapel and churchyard stand in testimony to the church’s unique history and the special role it played following the events of September 11th, 2001.  The chapel, which is the oldest public building in continuous use in Manhattan, was built in 1766 by Trinity Church to serve Anglicans living in what was then the northern outskirts of the city. Erected on the west side of Broadway, the chapel was positioned to overlook the Hudson River, with a great yard extending out in front of it.  St. Paul’s is known for its pew set aside for George Washington, who worshipped at the chapel during the years that New York City served as the nation’s capitol.

This is a stop on my ‘Give my regards to broadway’ survey tour.

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