When in 1850 New York became an archdiocese and Bishop John Hughes became an archbishop, he decided that a larger northern cathedral was needed to properly represent the increasing numbers, intelligence and wealth of the Catholic population in New York. At the time, most people thought his ambitions were a "follly," as the area where the cathedral was planned was mostly wilderness, but Archbishop Hughes' prescience correctly predicted that one day this location would be in the heart of the City. Renowned architect James Renwick was commissioned in 1853, the first stone was laid in 1858, and the cathedral was consecrated in 1911 (when it was estimated that to that point about $4 million had been spent). The gothic style cathedral is clad in white marble but the City pollution makes it much darker (see photos above).
|Northeast Crossing of Axis and Transept|
|Front Door of Central Portal|
While I would have preferred a guided tour that I am sure would have enriched this visit even more, I was glad that I took the time to really look at all the alters (each dedicated to one or more saints), The Lady Chapel (which was light and beautiful), and the amazing 20,000 lb. bronze west facing front doors (see above right).
Yes, there are a lot of Gothic style churches are plentiful in NYC, but really, this is a special place that is worth a visit.