Friday, 2 January 2009


St. Paul's Chapel, is a famous landmark in the Lower Manhattan Financial District. Built in 1766, as a satellite of Trinity Church, it is with the Morris-Jumel Mansion in Harlem the oldest building in Manhattan. It survived the 1766 fire that destroyed the first Trinity Church because its flat roof allowed rescuers to stand atop it and put out falling embers. The tower was not added until 1796. It has alot of history attached to it which is worthy of further research and a subsequent visit.

However, none of the happenings in its history would have impacted so profoundly, as did the terrible and harrowing events that played out on September 11, 2001.

The Chapel stands on a plot that backs onto Church Street which immediately adjoined the site of the twin towers of the World Trade Centre, and served as a place of rest and refuge for recovery workers at the WTC site. For eight months, hundreds of volunteers worked 12 hour shifts around the clock, serving meals, making beds, counseling and praying with fire fighters, construction workers, police and others. Miraculously, the chapel survived without even a broken window. Church history declares it was spared by a miracle sycamore on the northwest corner of the property that bore the full force of the debris. The tree's root has been preserved in a bronze memorial by sculptor Steve Tobin.

Inside of St. Paul's Chapel was filled with worldwide messages of support

The fence around the Chapel grounds became the main spot for visitors to place impromptu memorials to the event. After it became filled with flowers, photos, teddy bears, and other paraphernalia, chapel officials decided to erect a number of panels on which visitors could add to the memorial. Estimating that only 15 would be needed in total, they eventually required 400.

The Chapel is now a popular tourist destination since it still keeps many of the memorial banners around the sanctuary and has an extensive audio video history of the tragedy. A place to visit, reflect, feel sorrow and compassion and wish that it never happens again - sadly, perhaps an unrealistic attainment.

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