16. Opening Cries of the Revolutionary War

The view of Golden Hill (sometime in the 1760s) and the original John Street Church. Image via the NYPL

The sturdy John Street Church, which sits between two hemmed-in, open-air patios, was built in 1841, six years after the Great Fire. This was the Methodist congregation’s third church; the first was constructed on this same spot in 1768. The church’s contributions extend beyond religious history. During the Battle of Golden Hill,(7) a conflict in 1770 that took place between British forces and the revolutionary-minded Sons of Liberty, injured soldiers were taken to the first John Street Church for shelter. Today this is an almost embarrassing example of lovely old architecture being unceremoniously dwarfed by new (in this case, the Philip Johnson–designed 33 Maiden Lane, which looks like something out of a frightening science fiction novel). The berobed bust of the English theologian John Wesley (1703– 1791) in the courtyard is so not amused. (44 John Street)

(7)  The Battle of Golden Hill took place approximately at the corner of John and William Streets. While a minor skirmish in the revolutionary scheme of things, several New Yorkers were injured and one was killed. Perhaps even more unbelievable: This was an actual and, yes, actually golden—with amber stalks of wheat.

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