Built in 1766, St. Paul’s Chapel is an Episcopal chapel located in Lower Manhattan, next to the New York City Hall, which is one of the oldest surviving structures in all of New York City. Click to book your Churches, Chapels and Cathedrals tour.
History and Facts
When New York City was under British colonial rule, Queen Anne issued a land charter for a church that would serve the growing local population. The Parish of Trinity Church was thrilled to receive royal permission for the construction of a new property. This parish was affiliated with the Episcopal denomination, which was a branch of the Church of England.
In 1766, St. Paul’s Chapel opened to worshipers from this well-established and powerful diocese. Thomas McBean was hired as the chief architect of this building which consisted of stone from local quarries. The original brownstone facade is still intact and in excellent condition. Tall neoclassical columns also welcome visitors into this historic chapel.
One of the most prominent architectural features of the building is a statue of Paul the Apostle. Recently discovered records indicate that the statue was probably added in the late 1780s by an unknown artist.
Upon opening, the church towered above all other dwellings in the rapidly changing Lower Manhattan. After his inauguration as the first president of the United States of America, George Washington visited the chapel for prayer. The inauguration ceremony was held at the nearby Federal Hall along Wall Street. In fact, this hall and the chapel are some of the oldest surviving structures in all of New York City.
Speaking of the American Revolution, the exterior of St. Paul’s Chapel is decorated with a statue that honors Richard Montgomery, who made the ultimate sacrifice in the Battle of Quebec. This heroic general is buried in the churchyard that’s lined with dense trees and shrubs.
Immediately after the tragic attacks on the Twin Towers in September 2001, St. Paul’s Chapel served an important role in the recovery of Lower Manhattan. For months, the church was used heavily by law enforcement, firefighters, and volunteers. Despite its close proximity to the site of the attacks, the chapel wasn’t damaged by any measurable standards. Some people truly believe in the miraculous survival of the chapel after such a horrendous catastrophe in the heart of NYC’s vibrant Financial District.
St. Paul’s Chapel is situated along the busy Broadway in Lower Manhattan, New York City. Several subway stations are located within a few blocks of this historic place of worship. The Fulton Street station gets service from the 4 and 5 lines that run through the eastern side of Manhattan. The Cortlandt Street station is served by the R line that goes to Brooklyn. Additional rapid transit service is available at the Park Place, Chambers, and World Trade Center hubs.
There are also plenty of Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) bus stops along Broadway and the surrounding streets or avenues. The New York City Hall could be used as a reference point for a visit to St. Paul’s Chapel. The iconic Woolworth Building, one of the city’s earliest skyscrapers, also casts a shadow on the church and many other smaller buildings.
Visiting St. Paul’s Chapel
As an active Episcopal entity, St. Paul’s Chapel holds regular services for the public. Therefore, it’s important for tourists to be respectful of the policies that are enforced by this religious establishment.
For example, visitors are expected to dress modestly and stay quiet when touring the interior of the chapel. Weekly guided tours are available in the chapel and churchyard. When the property is closed to the public, you’re more than welcome to admire the architecture and landscape at a distance. Broadway and Park Row provide great views of this historic religious landmark in the heart of the Big Apple. To enjoy overhead views of the chapel, you should head to the observation deck at One World Trade Center.
Location: 209 Broadway (between Fulton and Vesey Streets), New York, NY, 10007
Click here to visit St. Paul’s Chapel website.