St Patrick’s Cathedral and I have not had a great history when it comes to photos. The one time I was actually inside, I didn’t have a camera. That was back when Faith was a low-number teenager and it was so cold in New York that we opted to add a fast-paced Stations of the Cross to our itinerary, just to get warm. In the years of my early forays into photography and digital photography, I lacked a wide-enough lens/zoom to capture a meaningful amount of the magnificent building in the frame.
Last year, when I had time, a decent camera and a beautiful day, I just happened to be in New York on Veterans Day and the parade just happened to go past St Pat’s. Shooting from across the street meant shooting past/over/in between people, parade participants and crowd-control fencing. The best view I had of the cathedral was from the middle of 51st Street, where the police had set up an authorized crossing line. This was made with crowd-control fencing and we were packed in like cattle. Stopping to get a nice photo of the cathedral was ill-advised and not attempted. Adding insult to injury, as it were, the Cathedral was undergoing renovation work, complete with photo-ruining scaffolding.
This past November, when I walked by the cathedral, it was raining.
I did venture inside, but there was a mass in progress. My memory of even the fastest masses, told me that they were about 15-20 minutes away from ending the service. I didn’t have time to wait. A guard at the security station pointed to a “Donations” basket and to the gallery area behind the pews. I took that to mean: “for a few dollars, I’ll let you take some pictures.” I complied. No flash, and I remembered to mute the click-sound on my camera.
I was going to simply share the photos I managed to get, but when I looked up the cross street, I spied the caption on the map: “Iconic church with storied history” I gotta learn more about that. Let’s begin with this little bit from Wikipedia:
“The Cathedral of St. Patrick (commonly called St. Patrick’s Cathedral) is a decorated Neo-Gothic-style Roman Catholic cathedral church in the United States and a prominent landmark of New York City. It is the seat of the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, and a parish church, located on the east side of Fifth Avenue between 50th and 51st Streets in Midtown Manhattan, directly across the street from Rockefeller Center and specifically facing the Atlas statue.”
Not to quibble with the folks at Wikipedia, but the cathedral was built in 1878. The Atlas statue was installed in 1937. So, if anything is specifically facing anything else, I’m guessing Atlas is facing St. Pats. Then again, since Atlas is a Greek God who at one time was said to hold the Earth on his back…the Earth that God, as worshipped by the Roman Catholic Church created, I don’t think the cathedral and the statue are really related. I think we’re talking “neighbors” not brothers in architecture, just sayin.
Perhaps the “storied past” has something to do with terrorism. Beginning in 1914, and continuing through the 1950s, St. Patrick’s was the target of a couple of bombings and several bomb threats.
The Gothic Revival style cathedral was scoffed at when first proposed by Archbishop John Hughes in 1853. Many people thought the site was too far away from the populated area of Manhattan. The Archbishop persisted and design of the cathedral began. The cornerstone was laid on August 15, 1858. Construction was halted during the Civil War, resuming in 1865. The cathedral was completed in 1878 and dedicated on May 25, 1879. The twin spires were added in 1888 and, rising 329’ 6” (100.4 m), were the tallest structures in New York City at the time.
The cathedral is a brick building, clad in marble. It’s 174’ (53m) wide at the transepts and 333’ (101.2 m) long, from the Narthex to the Lady Chapel. If you would like more information about the cathedral, you can visit the website, the historic timeline, read the article in Wikipedia – be nice, take a virtual tour, or, something I never thought I’d write, follow St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Twitter.
If you want more information about Thursday Doors, and to my regular readers, no, I’m not going to elevate Norm to a religious post of significance, please check out Norm Frampton’s blog. View his doors, find the blue frog and click on that to add your door or see all the other doors.