7. Cathedral of St. John the Divine Crypt

A messy construction area of the crypt beneath St. John the Divine.

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is the largest cathedral in the world, but remains unfinished. A guide to the Cathedral from 1921 estimated that construction could last up to 700 years based on the true Gothic building methods used to create it. On the exterior, this incompleteness is evident in its asymmetrical facade. Inside, the off-limits crypt remains a work in progress. 

To lay the foundation of the cathedral, builders had to dig 300 feet down. This excavation project was funded by J.P. Morgan. The Guastavinos did the ceiling of the crypt, which is laid out in the shape of a crucifix. Today, that crucifix is truncated due to the unfinished plan. The walkway of the crypt follows the layout of the church above, with studio spaces named after the chapels atop the subterranean space.

The Cathedral has a long history of artists in residence who used the studios in the crypt including Greg Wyatt, the sculptor who created the Peace Fountain on the southwest side of the Cathedral Close and Philippe Petit, the World Trade Center tightrope walker.

In April 2019, a fire broke out in the crypt of the cathedral, destroying and damaging “many paintings, icons and pieces of furniture,” reported the New York Times. After years of repairs and reconstruction, the crypt is now open to the public on very rare occasions around Halloween. Keep an eye out for your next chance to join a Halloween “Crypt Crawl.”