1. St. Peter’s Church
The first Roman Catholic parish in New York City was St. Peter’s Church. It was built in 1785 a few years after the American Revolution and was established several years prior to the current American government.
The history of the Catholic church in America is not without its share of bloodshed and on Christmas Eve in 1806, a riot broke out outside of St. Peter’s Church. Fifty protestors gathered outside of the building. The following day, on Christmas, the Irish Catholics feared an attack and armed themselves, which resulted in a watchman getting killed and a riot breaking out. The only people arrested were the Irish immigrants.
In 1836, the original ceiling began falling apart and the congregation grew too large to contain all of the people who came to worship. A new church was built in 1840 and the location of the new church, which is still standing today on Barclay Street near the World Trade Center, remained the same as the original. The famous “Ground Zero cross” from the steel at 9/11 was originally located at the side facade of St. Peter’s Church before it moved into the 9/11 Museum, but has been replaced by a metal cross sculpture Jon Krawczyk, commissioned for the location.
The cathedrals, chapels, and churches of New York City provide a rich history and cultural background of the city during the times they were built. Due to their age and iconic architecture, they are deeply rooted in the lives of historical and famous figures and are home to many historical artifacts and quirky secrets. The buildings have long since taken on a life of their own.
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