Trinity Church (Manhattan)

St. Paul's Chapel Broadway (Manhattan) Wall Street

Trinity Church and Graveyard
NYC Landmark No. 0048
Trinity Church NYC 004b.JPG
Trinity Church from Wall Street
Trinity Church is located in Manhattan
Trinity Church
Trinity Church
Trinity Church is located in New York
Trinity Church
Trinity Church
Trinity Church is located in the United States
Trinity Church
Trinity Church
Location75 Broadway
Manhattan, New York City
Coordinates40°42′29″N 74°0′44″W / 40.70806°N 74.01222°W / 40.70806; -74.01222Coordinates: 40°42′29″N 74°0′44″W / 40.70806°N 74.01222°W / 40.70806; -74.01222
ArchitectRichard Upjohn
Architectural styleGothic Revival
NRHP reference No.76001252
NYCL No.0048
Significant dates
Added to NRHPDecember 8, 1976[3]
Designated NHLDecember 8, 1976[4]
Designated NYCLAugust 16, 1966[2]

Trinity Church is a historic parish church in the Episcopal Diocese of New York, at the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan in New York City. Known for its history, location, architecture and endowment,[5] Trinity is a traditional high church, with an active parish centered around the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion in missionary, outreach, and fellowship.


In 1696, Governor Benjamin Fletcher approved the purchase of land in Lower Manhattan by the Church of England community for construction of a new church. The parish received its charter from King William III on May 6, 1697. Its land grant specified an annual rent of 60 bushels of wheat.[6] The first rector was William Vesey (for whom nearby Vesey Street is named), a protege of Increase Mather, who served for 49 years until his death in 1746.

First Trinity Church

Loyalist Charles Inglis, Rector of Trinity Church (1765–1783)

The first Trinity Church building, a modest rectangular structure with a gambrel roof and small porch, was constructed in 1698, on Wall Street, facing the Hudson River. The land on which it was built was formerly a formal garden and then a burial ground.[7][8][9] It was built because in 1696, members of the Church of England (Anglicans) protested to obtain a "charter granting the church legal status" in New York City. According to historical records, Captain William Kidd lent the runner and tackle from his ship for hoisting the stones.[10][11]

Anne, Queen of Great Britain, increased the parish's land holdings to 215 acres (870,000 m2) in 1705. Later, in 1709, William Huddleston founded Trinity School as the Charity School of the church, and classes were originally held in the steeple of the church. In 1754, King's College (now Columbia University) was chartered by King George II of Great Britain, and instruction began with eight students in a school building near the church.

During the American Revolutionary War the city became the British military and political base of operations in North America, following the departure of General George Washington and the Continental Army shortly after Battle of Long Island and subsequent local defeats. Under British occupation clergy were required to be Loyalists, while the parishioners included some members of the revolutionary New York Provincial Congress, as well as the First and Second Continental Congresses.

The church was destroyed in the Great New York City Fire of 1776, which started in the Fighting Cocks Tavern, destroying between 400 and 500 buildings and houses, and leaving thousands of New Yorkers homeless. Six days later, most of the city's volunteer firemen followed General Washington north. Rev. Charles Inglis served throughout the war and then to Nova Scotia on evacuation with the whole congregation of Trinity Church.[12]

The Rev. Samuel Provoost was appointed Rector of Trinity (1784–1800) in 1784, and the New York State Legislature ratified the charter of Trinity Church, deleting the provision that asserted its loyalty to the King of England. Whig patriots were appointed as vestrymen. In 1787, Provoost was consecrated as the first Bishop of the newly formed Diocese of New York. Following his 1789 inauguration at Federal Hall, George Washington attended Thanksgiving service, presided over by Bishop Provoost, at St. Paul's Chapel, a chapel of the Parish of Trinity Church. He continued to attend services there until the second Trinity Church was finished in 1790. St. Paul's Chapel is currently part of the Parish of Trinity Church and is the oldest public building in continuous use in New York City.

Second Trinity Church

Construction on the second Trinity Church building began in 1788; it was consecrated in 1790. St. Paul's Chapel was used while the second Trinity Church was being built.

The second Trinity Church was built facing Wall Street; it was 200 feet tall, and longer and wider than its predecessor. Building a bigger church was beneficial because the population of New York City was expanding. The church was torn down after being weakened by severe snows during the winter of 1838–39.

The second Trinity Church was politically significant because President Washington and members of his government often worshiped there. Additional notable parishioners included John Jay and Alexander Hamilton.[citation needed]

Bird's-eye view of Trinity Church, 1846
View from church steeple, 1872
Trinity Church c. 1900

Third Trinity Church

The third and current Trinity Church began construction in 1839 and was finished in 1846.[1] When the Episcopal Bishop of New York consecrated Trinity Church on Ascension Day (May 1) 1846, its soaring Gothic Revival spire, surmounted by a gilded cross, dominated the skyline of lower Manhattan. Trinity was a welcoming beacon for ships sailing into New York Harbor.

In 1843, Trinity Church's expanding parish was divided due to the burgeoning cityscape and to better serve the needs of its parishioners. The newly formed parish would build Grace Church, to the north on Broadway at 10th street, while the original parish would re-build Trinity Church, the structure that stands today. Both Grace and Trinity Churches were completed and consecrated in 1846.

Trinity Church held the title of tallest building in the United States until 1869, when it was surpassed by St. Michael's Church, Old Town, Chicago. Trinity continued to be the tallest in New York City, with its 281-foot (86 m) spire and cross, until it was surpassed in 1890 by the New York World Building.[13]

In 1876–1877 a reredos and altar were erected in memory of William Backhouse Astor, Sr., to the designs of architect Frederick Clarke Withers.

Late 20th and early 21st centuries

On July 9, 1976, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visited Trinity Church. Vestrymen presented the Queen with a symbolic "back rent" of 279 peppercorns.

Since 1993, Trinity Church has hosted the graduation ceremonies of the High School of Economics and Finance. The school is located on Trinity Place, a few blocks away from the church. Guided tours of the church are offered daily at 2 p.m.[citation needed]

In 2015 Mark Francisco Bozzuti-Jones, a priest at Trinity Church, commissioned Mark Dukes to create the icon Our Lady of Ferguson.[14]

September 11, 2001

During the September 11 attacks, people took refuge inside the church from the massive debris cloud produced by the first World Trade Center tower collapse. Some of the chapel pew's paint was rubbed off from the people taking refuge.[15] The pews were later replaced, but one still exists at the back of the chapel for remembrance of the events on 9/11. Falling wreckage knocked over a giant sycamore tree that had stood for nearly a century in the churchyard of St. Paul's Chapel, part of Trinity Church's parish, located several blocks north of Trinity Church. Sculptor Steve Tobin used its roots as the base for a bronze sculpture titled Trinity Root, which stood in front of the church at the corner of Wall Street and Broadway until December 2015, when it was moved by the church to its conference center in Connecticut. The move was controversial as it damaged the sculpture, which was later repaired, and the artist objected to its relocation.[16]

Occupy Wall Street

Trinity is located near Zuccotti Park, the location of the Occupy Wall Street protests. It offered both moral and practical support to the demonstrators but balked when protesters demanded an encampment on church-owned land called LentSpace, adjoining Juan Pablo Duarte Square in the neighborhood of Hudson Square. The church hierarchy were criticized by others within the Anglican movement, most notably Archbishop Desmond Tutu.[17] On December 17, 2011, occupiers and a few clergy attempted to occupy LentSpace, which is surrounded by a chain-link fence. After demonstrating in Duarte Park and marching on the streets surrounding the park, occupiers climbed over[18] and under the fence. Police responded by arresting about 50 demonstrators, including at least three Episcopal clergymen and a Roman Catholic nun.[19]

Rectors of Trinity Church

Burial grounds

There are three burial grounds closely associated with Trinity Church:

  1. Trinity Churchyard, surrounding the church at Wall Street and Broadway, is where Alexander Hamilton, Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, Angelica Schuyler Church, Philip Hamilton, William Bradford, Franklin Wharton, Robert Fulton, Captain James Lawrence, William Alexander, Lord Stirling, Francis Lewis, and Albert Gallatin, Hercules Mulligan are buried.
  2. Trinity Church Cemetery and Mausoleum on Riverside Drive at 155th Street, formerly the location of John James Audubon's estate, is where John James Audubon, Alfred Tennyson Dickens, John Jacob Astor, Clement Clarke Moore, and Ed Koch are buried. It is the only active cemetery remaining in the borough of Manhattan.
  3. The Churchyard of St. Paul's Chapel is where memorials to the United Irishmen Addis Emmet and Dr. William MacNeven are located.


Architectural historians consider the third and present Trinity Church building, built in 1846 and designed by architect Richard Upjohn, the first and finest example of Gothic Revival architecture.[21] In 1976, the United States Department of the Interior designated Trinity Church a National Historic Landmark because of its architectural significance and its place within the history of New York City.[4][22][23]


The tower of Trinity Church currently contains 23 bells, the heaviest of which weighs 27 U.S. hundredweight (1,225 kilograms [2,701 lb]).

Eight of these bells were cast for the tower of the second church building and were hung for ringing in the English change ringing style. Three more bells were added later. In 1946 these bells were adapted for swing chiming and sounded by electric motors.

A project to install a new ring of 12 additional change ringing bells was initially proposed in 2001 but put on hold in the aftermath of the September attacks, which took place three blocks north of the church. This project came to fruition in 2006, thanks to funding from the Dill Faulkes Educational Trust. These new bells form the first ring of 12 change-ringing bells ever installed in a church in the United States. The installation work was carried out by Taylors, Eayre and Smith of Loughborough, England, in September 2006.

Interior of Trinity Church

In late 2006, the ringing of the bells for bell practice and tuning caused much concern to local residents, some of whose windows and residences are less than 100 feet (30 m) at eye level from the bell tower. The church then built a plywood deck right over the bells and placed shutters on the inside of the bell chamber's lancet windows. With the shutters and the plywood deck closed, the sound of the bells outside the tower is minimal. The shutters, and hatches in the plywood deck, are opened for public ringing.

Public ringing takes place before and after 11:15 a.m. Sunday service and on special occasions, such as 9/11 commemorations, weddings, and ticker-tape parades. Details of the individual bells can be found at Dove's Guide for Church Bellringers.[24]


Trinity Church has three sets of impressive bronze doors, donated by William Waldorf Astor, 1st Viscount Astor in memory of his father, John Jacob Astor III. Conceived by Richard Morris Hunt, they date from 1893 and were produced by Karl Bitter (east door), J. Massey Rhind (south door), and Charles Henry Niehaus (north door). The north and east doors each consists of six panels from Church history or the Bible, and the south door depicts the history of New York in its six panels.[25]


Trinity Church, as an Episcopal parish in the Anglican Communion, offers a full schedule of Daily Prayer and Eucharist services throughout the week, and based on the Book of Common Prayer; it is also available for special occasions, such as weddings and baptisms. In addition to daily worship, Trinity Church provides Christian fellowship and outreach to the community.




Music and arts

Trinity Church has a rich music program with an annual budget of $2.5 million as of 2011.[5] Concerts at One has been providing live professional classical and contemporary music for the Wall Street community since 1969, and the church has several organized choirs, featured Sunday mornings on WQXR 105.9 FM in New York City. Trinity presents world-class music programs both in New York City and around the world via high definition video streaming.

The mainstay of Trinity's music program is The Choir of Trinity Wall Street, a professional ensemble that leads liturgical music at Trinity Church and St. Paul's Chapel, presents new-music concerts in New York City, produces recordings, and performs in international tours. The Choir is often joined by the Trinity Baroque Orchestra, Trinity's ensemble of period instrumentalists, and NOVUS NY, Trinity's contemporary music orchestra.

Trinity is also home to a Youth Chorus, Youth Orchestra, Family Choir, Downtown Voices, change bell ringers, and a wide variety of arts programming through Congregational Arts. Visiting choirs from around the world perform at Trinity weekly. The entire music program is under the leadership of Julian Wachner, Director of Music and the Arts, a renowned conductor, composer, and keyboard artist.

Property holdings

Close-up of statues of Trinity Church

Beginning in the 1780s, the church's claim on 62 acres of Queen Anne's 1705 grant was contested in the courts by descendants of a 17th-century Dutchwoman, Anneke Jans Bogardus, who, it was claimed, held original title to that property. The basis of the lawsuits was that only five of Bogardus' six heirs had conveyed the land to the English crown in 1671.[26][27] Numerous times over the course of six decades, the claimants asserted themselves in court, losing each time. The attempt was even revived in the 20th century. In 1959, the Internal Revenue Service sued over the compensation of the church's property manager, but the church prevailed in Stanton v. United States.

Disclosure resulting from a lawsuit filed by a parishioner revealed total assets of about $2 billion as of 2011.[5] Although Trinity Church has sold off much of the land that was part of the royal grant from Queen Anne,[26] it is still one of the largest landowners in New York City with 14 acres of Manhattan real estate including 5.5 million square feet (510,000 m2) of commercial space in Hudson Square.[5][28] The parish's annual revenue from its real estate holdings was $158 million in 2011 with net income of $38 million,[5] making it perhaps one of the richest individual parishes in the world.[26]

The institution also owns the Trinity Court Building property, where it formerly housed its offices and preschool. That building was demolished in 2015, and a replacement is under construction.[29][30] The church was connected to the previous building by a footbridge, which was preserved during demolition, and will be connected to the new building upon its completion.

See also


  1. ^ a b New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission; Dolkart, Andrew S.; Postal, Matthew A. (2009). Postal, Matthew A. (ed.). Guide to New York City Landmarks (4th ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-28963-1., p. 11
  2. ^ "Trinity Church and Graveyard" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. August 16, 1966. Retrieved July 28, 2019.
  3. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. January 23, 2007.
  4. ^ a b "Trinity Church and Graveyard". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. September 11, 2007. Archived from the original on December 29, 2007.
  5. ^ a b c d e Otterman, Sharon (April 24, 2013). "Trinity Church Split on How to Manage $2 Billion Legacy of a Queen". The New York Times. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  6. ^ "TRINITY CHURCH PROPERTY.; Outline of the Legal History of the Trinity "Church Farm."" (PDF). The New York Times. November 18, 1859.
  7. ^ "Digital redraft of the Castello Plan of New Amsterdam in New Netherland in 1660 [Beta]". Retrieved May 16, 2017.
  8. ^ "INDEX TO PLOTS ON THE CASTELLO PLAN MAP". Retrieved May 16, 2017.
  9. ^ "New York City 1695". University of Texas Libraries. Retrieved May 15, 2017.
  10. ^ "Historical Timeline".
  11. ^ "Question of the Day: Trinity's Very Own Pirate?". The Archivist's Mailbag. Trinity Church. November 19, 2008. Retrieved December 18, 2011.
  12. ^ Loyalism in New York during the American revolution, p. 36
  13. ^ "Trinity Church". Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Pilgrimage to Ground Zero, and Beyond". Trinity Church. September 9, 2011. Retrieved April 8, 2018.
  16. ^ "Artist still in shock after Trinity Church uproots and breaks his 9/11 work". The New York Times. July 6, 2016.
  17. ^ Matt Flegenheimer (December 16, 2011). "Occupy Group Faults Church, a Onetime Ally". The New York Times. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  18. ^ Nathan Schneider (December 19, 2011). "Re-Occupy: A Movement Seeks a Sanctuary: On occupying Trinity Church—and the Occupy movement's relationship with established institutions". Yes!. Retrieved December 31, 2011.
  19. ^ Al Baker; Colin Moynihan (December 17, 2011). "Arrests as Occupy Protest Turns to Church". The New York Times. Retrieved December 18, 2011.
  20. ^ "Rector's Office". Trinity Church Wall Street. Retrieved June 27, 2020.
  21. ^ "Trinity Church". Trinity Church. Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  22. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination". National Park Service. August 1976.
  23. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination (photos)". National Park Service. August 1976.
  24. ^ "Dove's Guide for Church Bellringers".
  25. ^ Craven, Wayne, Sculpture in America, Thomas Y. Crowell Co., New York 1968, p. 454
  26. ^ a b c Nevius, Michelle & Nevius, James (2009), Inside the Apple: A Streetwise History of New York City, New York: Free Press, ISBN 141658997X, pp.22-23
  27. ^ "A Dutchwoman's Farm.; The Hon. James W. Gerard On The Anneke Jans Bogardus Claims" (PDF). The New York Times. May 7, 1879.
  28. ^ "Trinity Real Estate". Archived from the original on November 30, 2009.
  29. ^ "New Mixed-Use Tower Revealed at 74 Trinity Place, Financial District - New York YIMBY". New York YIMBY. October 24, 2016. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  30. ^ "Construction kicks off on Trinity Church's Pelli Clarke Pelli-designed community center and office tower | 6sqft". 6sqft. Retrieved March 15, 2018.