1. Riverside Church has Elevators, and even Underground Parking

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While Riverside Church was modeled after Chartres Cathedral, the two are similar only on an architectural level. Riverside Church is steel-framed structure with Gothic features, and so, the vaulting system in the great hall is decorative, rather than structurally essential. The modern structural elements of the church allowed it to be built at a fairly fast pace, with the first service being held a mere three years after construction started–despite being hindered early on by a scaffolding fire.

While the facade of Riverside Church is in the Gothic Revival style, the church is structurally modern – the 21-story tower has four elevators, the tallest in any church in the world, and parking space underneath it!

Nonetheless, there were some major design problems that had to be faced when designing the tower that are not necessarily visible to the naked eye. First, the weight of the bell chamber added an additional five floors to the weight of the tower. Therefore, some of the heaviest and thickest steel columns and beams used in the church were employed in the structure of the tower.

The second major problem was the necessity of having one edge of the tower in a juxtaposition with the nave. Essentially, the entire north wall of the tower had to be carried on one truss beam resting on upright columns that were placed on either side of the nave. This cross truss is 68 feet long and weighs 60 tons.

Next, check out the Top 10 Secrets of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.