New York Visitors Guide
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The Cathedral of St. John the Divine | New York Attractions

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine | New York Attractions
Location: 
1047 Amsterdam Ave., New York, NY 10025
Contact: 
212.316.7540

Though many may know that this striking religious landmark is the largest cathedral in the world, few realize it is still not finished. Complete or not, the granite and limestone structure is a gorgeous patchwork of Romanesque and French Gothic styles.

The exterior, as a result, looks like the lovechild of midtown's St. Patrick's and Paris's Notre Dame, with intricately carved biblical figures flanking the massive bronze doors instead of gargoyles.

The tall, pointed Byzantine-inspired arches are the most striking feature of the interior, so vast it can comfortably fit 4,500 bodies during services. Tour guides love to point out that the cathedral stretches the length of two football fields, while the height of the domed crossing can accommodate Lady Liberty (without her platform). The first stone of the "house of prayer for all people" was laid in 1892, and construction continued steadily until 1941, when the attack on Pearl Harbor stalled progress for nearly 40 years.

A fire in December 2001 presented yet another setback, with crews only recently completing seven years of cleaning smoke damage. Even though the towers, transepts, great crossing, and choir roof have yet to be completed there are still many architectural and artistic gems to behold, like the Great Rose window, fashioned with more than 10,000 pieces of glass; the Guastavino-tile dome of the crossing; the seven chapels, each built in a different nationalistic style; and the nave's fourteen themed bays honoring professions and human endeavor, each with corresponding stained-glass windows. The active Episcopal congregation is known for its outreach work with children and seniors.

Highlights during the year range from the blessing of the animals during the feast of St. Francis to the New York Philharmonic Memorial Day concert and the New Year's Eve Concert for Peace. Keep in mind that a visit will include limited access to certain parts as work continues. When it will be finished remains one of New York City's eternal questions.

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