Monday, January 11, 2010

a New York surprise...

The Cathedral Church of St. John The Divine on 112th and Amsterdam

I'm not sure that I should admit this on here, because perhaps I am the only New Yorker who didn't know about this gorgeous, mammoth piece of architecture sitting right in the middle of Harlem, but I had NO IDEA that this structure even EXISTED in my city!

After dropping my friend off at the train station Sunday morning, Dan and I decided to do some exploring before taking our car back to the lot where we keep it (our real motive was scouting out a new brunch place). We were heading north on Amsterdam when suddenly, up ahead, I spotted this grandiose Cathedral. It seemed to pop up out of nowhere! I made Dan pull over while I jumped out of the car (into the cold, arctic winds) for my photo op.

Since I was obviously so clueless about this impressive piece of architectural history, I did a little googling to get the scoop:
~it is the largest cathedral in the world (St. Peter's Basilica in Rome is larger, but not a cathedral)
~the first cornerstone of the cathedral was laid in 1892
~the project was plagued with problems from the start
~although not complete, the first service was held the day before Pearl Harbor (1941), but construction came to a halt after the U.S. entered WWII
~work did not resume again until 1979
~in 2001, a fire halted construction once again, and still today it is only two-thirds complete (with completion not expected anytime soon)
(sources 1 & 2)

And that concludes our history lesson for today. :)


Candice Pair said...

Oh my gosh yes! We took one of the double decker bus tours one time, and we did the loop that went through Harlem. It was soooo amazing! I totally forgot about it until now! The second I saw your pic I knew it was the same cathedral! Thanks!

Anna said...

It's in my old 'hood, sorta! :) It looks down on my little park (which has a waterfall). Did you go inside? It's pretty interesting though still partially under reconstruction I think. On Saturdays you can go up in the bell tower but that's one thing I actually never did. There are some cute brunch places near there too, including one that makes my mouth water right now thinking about it!

KristyWes said...

And the Hungarian Pastry Shop is right across the street! That place always makes me feel hip and literary.

That City Girl said...

I guess I *am* the only one who didn't know about it! kw: wish I'd seen the Hungarian Pastry Shop that morning -- we were in search of some good grub. Anna: what brunch place are you talking about? We ended up at Crepes on Columbus.

Anna said...

Crepes on Columbus is what my mouth is watering about. I'll have to think to remember the names of the other places. There's one place at Amst and like 119 that I went once. There's a cute one like a block up from the Hungarian Pastry shop on the same side of the street. And then there's a bunch of places on Broadway b/w 112 and 116 or so b/c that's right near Columbia. Sorry I dont have anything more specific in my head at the moment. I can picture places but not the name or the exact location. NYC memories are failing me!

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