Cathedral of St. John the Divine

Location: 1047 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10025

A Gothic Revival landmark, the Cathedral of St John the Divine warmly welcomes visitors from across the United States and around the world. Hundreds of thousands of people visit the St. John the Divine NYC—the world's largest—each year, exploring artwork by Keith Haring, 17th-century tapestries, a 9/11 memorial sculpture, stained-glass windows, gardens and wandering peacocks. The Saint John the Divine hosts daily services, tours, concerts and choral performances.

In a city of skyscrapers, the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine NYC impresses with sheer size. Its detailed façade towers over Amsterdam Avenue, and the building extends a full avenue block to Morningside Drive. The Cathedral is more than 120 years old and remains unfinished. Despite the incomplete construction, it is the largest cathedral in the world, making it a global landmark. The Cathedral’s distinctive architecture is an equal claim to fame, and an important monument in the history of its neighborhood and city.

Be sure to see:

Designed by Heins and LaFarge, the seven apsidal chapels give a nod to the turning tides of American immigration at the turn of the century. Each chapel was built in a different national style and named for saints of different national origins. The chapels are also arranged geographically, with the Spanish-inflected Chapel of Saint James on the south side, proceeding through Italian, French, Eastern Mediterranean, British, and German chapels to the Scandinavian style Chapel of Saint Ansgar on the north side.

The Great Rose Window holds pride of place on the western wall of the Cathedral. At forty feet in diameter, it is the third largest rose window in the world and is made up of over ten thousand pieces of glass.

The covered benches, shady trees, and the bubbling fountain of the Biblical Garden combine to provide a retreat and a place for reflection within the grounds. The garden’s various plantings are all species mentioned in scripture, with a guide to the plantings located near the entrance. The cross-shaped layout, gothic-canopied seating areas, and central floral mosaic all echo features of the Cathedral’s architecture.

At the heart of the Cathedral’s 11.3-acre Close, the shaded and flower-bordered Pulpit Lawn is a pocket of calm in the busy neighborhood. In the center of the lawn is a 40-foot-high gothic spire of carved Daytona stone. Its four sides bear reliefs of an eagle, a winged lion, a winged ox, and an angel, the symbols of the four Evangelists.

The Peace Fountain was sculpted by Cathedral Artist-in-Residence Greg Wyatt to mark the 200th anniversary of the Diocese of New York in 1985. The 40-foot-high bronze sculpture weaves together several representations of the conflict between good and evil. Above, the Archangel Michael embraces one of nine giraffes (said to be the most peaceful of creatures) after his defeat of Satan. Below, the lion lies down with the lamb. The fountain’s spiraling base takes inspiration from the double-helix of DNA. On either side of the fountain, moon- and sun-like faces direct their gazes toward and away from Amsterdam Avenue.

Getting to The Cathedral Church of St John the Divine couldn’t be easier! Just hop on our Uptown and Harlem route and hop off at Stop #21 right in front of the Cathedral—heavenly!

 

This page was edited by Steven Thomas