Located on a two acre piece between Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue, St. Patrick's cathedral is among the oldest and noteworthy landmarks in New York City. The gigantic building which reflects the medieval architectural designs of Europe covers an entire city block and has a unique outlook, which makes it a favorite among the tourist destinations located in the city (Byrne et al, 2008). Designed by James Renwick Junior, the building has undergone a number of renovations over the years, with many organs added to accommodate the homage of different significant figures in the catholic faith. St. Patrick's cathedral is affiliate with the Roman Catholic Church, and is headed by Timothy M. Dolan. The groundbreaking of the building took place in the year 1858, during the tenure of Archbishop John Hughes. The church is under the umbrella of the archdiocese of New York and has the capacity to accommodate 2200 people.
The Exterior Décor and Division of Space
Until the early 20th century, when tall buildings started mushrooming up in New York City, St. Patrick's cathedral was the tallest manmade structure in the expanse of what is now the one of US’s biggest cities. The exterior appearance of the building is comparable to that of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. This is because both buildings are made from brick clad in marble. The materials used in the construction of this gigantic structure were extracted from Massachusetts and New York (Otis et al, 2010). The marble clad brick gives the building the look associated with medieval buildings of England, such as the palace of Westminster. Scholars in architecture and medieval art describe the building as the most spectacular feature of the city, especially because it has a unique style.
The west façade of the structure is an ostentatious twin tower with gothic design, and rising 100 meters from street level. This is the most striking external feature of the building, which has a Latin floor design with a total height of 332 feet. The transept measure 174 feet, making the cathedral the only feature in the block. The main façade is defined by three porches with heavy bronze doors that give the structure a strong look. The main entrance is complete with a huge 9 ton door with sculptures of New York’s key religious figures associated with the Roman Catholic Church (Byrne et al, 2008). The exterior of the building is characterized by many sculptures, and other artworks, which enhance the elegant look of the cathedral.
The Interior Décor and Division of Space
The interior design of the cathedral can be defined simply as a resemblance of the English church style. The ornate Lady Chapel constructed in 1900 is among the spectacular features of the interior. This chapel consumes a significant amount of space in the building, and is considered a key organ in the church. The gothic design used in styling the interior brings a golden look, especially when it reflects the massive lights installed in the high of the building and along the walls. The combination of the lights, the gothic designs, the massive bells and the high alters makes it seem like a picture from the movies of the 20th century (Otis et al, 2010).
Perhaps the most striking feature of the interior is the stained glass used on the high windows. It brings a bright mixture of colors that make the walls spectacular. Near the Lady Chapel stands the pieta, also constructed in the year 1900 by William Partridge. On the opposite side stands the tomb of Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first saint of the United States. There is a large rose window, below which is located the cathedral’s main organ, which according to Byrne et al (2008) was a replacement of other minor elements initially constructed. The interior also accommodates the new chapel which was particularly constructed in homage for the polish saint, our lady of Czestochowa. The internal designs are also characterized by sculptures and flowery art.
A Reflection of the Conversation with Timothy Dolan
The conversation I had with the leader of this cathedral was quite enlightening as it shed light on matters that one cannot access from other sources. For instance, as a visitor, one cannot establish the ecclesiastical status of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. According to Dolan, the status of the church is Cathedral. Worth mentioning is that the ecclesiastic status is the same as the organizational status. Dolan also informed me that the building was constructed under the recommendation of Archbishop John Hughes. Initially, Hughes proposal appeared like wishful thinking to many New Yorker catholic believers. Dolan narrated how the ground breaking began, the struggles involved until the completion of the building.
He said that, unfortunately, Archbishop Hughes dies fifteen years before the completion of the cathedral. According to Dolan, the decorations and sculptures are the works of roman artist Paolo Medici, who also constructed the saint Elizabeth chapel. From the information I received from Dolan, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York is a symbol of both religious and national significance. Given the resources committed into the construction of the structure, one cannot help but acknowledge the efforts of the brains behind the entire project. The gothic art and décor is among the key features that make the building stand out.
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Byrne, J. P., Coleman, P., & King, J. (2008). Ireland and the Americas: Culture, politics, and history : a multidisciplinary encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO.
Otis, G. A., Greenfield, B., & St, L. R. (2010). New York City: City guide. Footscray, Vic: Lonely Planet.