If St. Paul’s Chapel in New York City seems out of place amid the towering metal and glass high rises near Ground Zero, it may be because it was built in another era. This colonial-period church is the oldest continually used public building in Manhattan. The charming stone exterior, that seemed so different from its surroundings, may be what beckoned and lured me inside the wrought iron gates as I ascended the steps of the nearby Subway.
Stepping inside the churchyard, the sounds of the city seemed to fade away, among the trees, tombstones and memorials honoring America’s First President, notables from the Revolutionary War and the Bell of Hope, presented to the people of the city of New York from the city of London on the first anniversary of September 11th.
St. Paul’s Chapel has stood for over 200 years, surviving New York’s Great Fire of 1776 and the unthinkable tragedy of 9/11. From the front of the property, you can glance across the street and watch the rebuilding of the five buildings that collapsed with the twin towers over a decade ago. Miraculously, the chapel survived, undamaged, to play an important role in the aftermath.
Entering the heavy doors, you’ll begin an emotional tour of the church that will lead you through the exhibit, Unwavering Spirit: Hope and Healing at Ground Zero. The displays share the story of the volunteer ministry that developed in the minutes, hours and days that followed as St. Paul’s Chapel opened its doors offering meals, beds, counseling and prayers to thousands of volunteer recovery workers.
In the days that followed 9/11, people left photos and notes for their loved ones that were missing on the gates of St. Paul’s Chapel. The church members compiled some of the notes and pictures and assembled them on this altar that is the first display in the exhibit.
This display holds the patches of fire departments sent from around the world in tribute to fire fighters who died in the line of duty.
Visitors have left messages not only to the families of those that were lost on that day, but to the American people.
This exhibit represents the sleeping quarters for the volunteers that I imagine worked to exhaustion before collapsing on the almost child-sized cots to get a few hours of rest before pulling themselves up and out the door again.
The framed Flag of Honor displayed on the back wall contains the names of each of the victims who lost their lives that fateful day from the Pentagon, Flight 93 and Ground Zero.
St. Paul’s Chapel became a place of hope and rest, and today draws thousands of visitors from around the world.
Information for Visiting St. Paul’s Chapel
St. Paul’s Chapel is open Monday- Friday 10 am to 6pm
10 am to 4 pm on Saturdays
7 am to 4 pm on Sundays
The Churchyard is open 10 am to 5 pm Monday – Friday
10 am to 3 pm on Saturdays
7 am to 3 pm on Sundays
St. Paul’s Chapel is located at 74 Trinity Place.
Free self-guided tours are available during normal hours. Donations are welcome. Allow 15 minutes to 45 minutes to view the exhibits within the chapel and another 15 to 30 minutes to explore the grounds.
Limited guided tours are available, call 212.602.0800 for information.
Have you visited St. Paul’s Chapel?
This post is linked Travel Photo Mondays at Travel Photo Discovery, Inspire Me Wednesday at Mama Buzz, Wanderlust Wednesday at Time Travel Plans, Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, and Photo Friday at Delicious Baby.
© 2013 – 2019, Tonya Prater. All rights reserved.