Masterpieces of Light and Space: St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York, New York, USA

St. Patrick's Cathedral

My first visit to New York was cold, very cold. I was there with my then-girlfriend (now wife) visiting her sister before we moved to Korea for a couple of years, in the middle of the winter, and our visit was bookended with major snowstorms making the streets a slushy, soggy, mess. If I remember the order of events right, we spent the morning at the MoMA, then walked back through mid-Town in the cold on our way to Koreatown for dinner. Frozen, tired, and in need of a respite, we ducked into St. Patrick’s Cathedral for a warm-up and sightseeing break. I was pretty certain at the time that this church was featured in Home Alone, maybe Home Alone 2, but in retrospect I think I was wrong about that.

St. Patrick's Cathedral

I remember that it was warm inside. There was a little music going, and it was very green. I guess that makes sense for St. Patrick. Anywho, I definitely remember it being beautiful and ornate, even more ornate than St. John’s, if a bit darker on the inside.

St. Patrick's Cathedral

When we lived in New York I visited St. Patrick’s again briefly, but it was totes under renovation and I don’t think I even took any pictures because it was all scaffolding everywhere. I would certainly love to go back and check it out again the next time we’re in New York, though.

St. Patrick's Cathedral

I just realized, when I took all of these pictures it was after sunset, in the middle of the winter, no wonder the church seemed dark inside.

St. Patrick's Cathedral

The Chancel was spectacular, though.

St. Patrick's Cathedral

Something about the cloisters of cathedrals really piques my curiosity. I’d probably be disappointed to go on an exploratory expedition in one to find nothing but offices and broom closets, but I imagine there are all sorts of holy relics hidden in them.

So yeah, St. Patrick’s is big and beautiful, right in midtown Manhattan ready for you to walk in and snap a photo or two. If you visit St. Patrick’s though out of church hopping interest and not just because it’s close to Rockefeller Center and on your tourist map, you must head up to 110th and Cathedral Parkway to see the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, too. It’s worth the trip.

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Masterpieces of Light and Space: Riverside Church, New York, NY

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Riverside Church #nyc

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I’m pretty sure my favorite neighborhood in New York City is Morningside Heights. It has a college-town feel, cool restaurants, and of course the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. Tucked away on the other side of the university from the Cathedral is another gem, The Riverside Church. The church was designed to appear similar to Chartres Cathedral, which I think is quite obvious when you see the stained glass in the choir.

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Perhaps the most striking feature of Riverside is its bell tower. It’s visible from all around the neighborhood and notably from Riverside Park because it’s frickin’ 20 stories tall. It also kinda screams GOTHIC REVIVAL right into your face.

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Riverside #church #nyc #architecture

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I don’t know what it is about these Gothic Revival churches, but I really want to sit in one through a loud thunderstorm with tons of rain coming down. Something about the imposing angles and upward-jutting towers (which apparently add quite a bit of weight to the outer walls to help secure the arches for the roof) really makes me think it would be a delightful place to take refuge in a deluge that was huge. (rhyme intended, I am a dad, after all.)

So there you go, another masterpiece from good old NYC, The Riverside Church.