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4.2
32 votes

Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral

263 Mulberry Street, New York, New York 10012 USA

“New York City's first cathedral”

The corner stone of Old St. Patrick's - the city's first Cathedral Church - was laid on June 8,1809. It was dedicated on May 14,1815, and on that day the New York Gazette described the cathedral as "a grand and beautiful church, which may justly be considered one of the greatest ornaments of in the city. The first Roman Catholic church in New York City was St. Peter's on Barclay Street, the cornerstone of which was laid in 1785. By the early 19th Century, the Jesuit rector of that church, Anthony Kohlmann, realized that the city's growing Catholic population needed both a second sanctuary and a cathedral for the first bishop, since the city had been made a see in 1808. The site he selected for the new church was being used a cemetery for St. Peter's, and was well outside the settled area of the city, surrounded by farmland and the country houses of the rich. The architect chosen was Joseph-Francois Mangin, who had co-designed New York's City Hall with John McComb, Jr.[ construction on which was ongoing when the cornerstone of St. Patrick's was laid on June 8, 1809. Construction took just under five years, with the sanctuary being dedicated on May 14, 1815. In that same year, John Connolly, an Irish Dominican friar, arrived to take office as the city's first resident bishop. The church, which was the largest in the city at the time it was built, measures 120 by 80 feet and the inner vault is 85 feet high.Until 1830 the cathedral was the ending place of the annual St. Patrick's Day parade. After that, it ended on Ann Street at the Church of the Transfiguration, whose pastor, Felix Varela, was a Spanish political refugee from Cuba, as he was a leader of the independence movement there, and who served as the chaplain of the Hibernian Universal Benevolent Society. Eventually, the parade moved uptown to pass in front of the new St. Patrick's Cathedral.In 1836, the cathedral was the subject of an attempted sack after tensions between Irish Catholics and anti-Catholic Know-Nothing nativists led to a number of riots and other physical confrontations. The situation worsened when a brain-injured young woman wrote a book telling her "true" story – a Protestant girl who converted to Catholicism, and was then forced by nuns to have sex with priests, with the resulting children being baptized then killed horribly. Despite the book being debunked by a mildly anti-Catholic magazine editor, nativist anger at the story resulted in a decision to attack the cathedral. Loopholes were cut in the church's outer walls, which had just recently been built, and the building was defended from the rioters with muskets. Afterwards, the Ancient Order of Hibernians established its headquarters across the street from the church. Thirty years later, in 1866, the structure was gutted by fire, and even though the new St. Patrick's was already under construction, the old cathedral was restored under the direction of architect Henry Engelbert and reopened in 1868.Since 1879, St. Patrick's Old Cathedral has been a parish church, the pastor residing in the old Bishop's House at 263 Mulberry Street. Today's multi-ethnic parish includes the territory of the former Most Holy Crucifix Parish, whose church now is the San Lorenzo Ruiz Chapel and houses the Filipino Catholic Apostolate for the Archdiocese of New York. Featured in the Godfather and the Godfather III as well as Mean Streets

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Reviewed by
Greek_nomad

  • Road Warrior
  • 401 Reviews
  • 207 Helpful
September 12, 2014
Rated 5.0

A must for architects! Old St Patrick;s Cathedral stands dynamic on site.
While you enter, you feel you are very small in comparison to its hierarchic arches.

We just hold still at the slightly lit cathedral's space and prayed for peace and unity all over the world.

This peace we got from inside the Cathedral, followed us until we went to bed. Extraordinary!!

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
David Stacy

  • 133 Reviews
  • 82 Helpful
August 31, 2014
Rated 4.0

Stopped by in 2007 and it was quite the sight. Quite a different change of pace from the upscale shopping all around.

Having visited only a handful of cathedrals I don't have a lot of context but this one seemed a little darker and gloomier than others I have been, specifically St. Paul's.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Chris Spinney Long

  • Tour Guide
  • 173 Reviews
  • 198 Helpful
March 28, 2014

Went on 3/21/2014 and pretty much the entire inside was under construction. Might want to wait until it's done being renovated

1 person found this review helpful

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Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral

263 Mulberry Street
New York, New York
10012 USA

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