The Cathedral of St. Patrick is a neo-gothic gem in midtown Manhattan across the street from Rockefeller Center and is the seat of the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York.
The site where the cathedral sits was originally a Jesuit college in 1810. The Jesuits closed the college in 1814 and sold the lot to the diocese.
The cornerstone of this beautiful cathedral designed by James Renwick, Jr. was laid on August 15, 1858. During the Civil War, construction was halted, but then resumed in 1865. The cathedral was completed in 1878 and dedicated the following year.
It takes up the whole city block between 50th and 51st streets and Madison and Fifth Avenues.
The cathedral spires rise over 330 feet from the street level.
The cathedral and its associated buildings were declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976.
The cathedral can accommodate 2200 worshipers and is built of brick clad in marble from Massachusetts and New York.
The beautiful stained glass windows were crafted by artists in Boston and from France and England.
The inner sanctuary underwent a major renovation during the 1930s and 40s.
One of the most notable features of this cathedral’s sanctuary that sets it apart from others is the fact that there are two separate altars. In the 1980’s, John Cardinal O’Connor wanted to be closer to the pews and more connected and visible to the worshipers so he had the stone altar from the Holy Family Chapel moved in front of the main altar to where you see it today.
St. Patrick’s has two pipe organs.
The Gallery organ is located in the Choir Gallery below the Rose Window over the Fifth Avenue entrance.
The Chancell Organ is located in the north part of the cathedral next to the Chapel of St. Joseph.
The first organ in the cathedral was built by the distinguished organ builders George Jardine & Son of New York and was installed in the gallery in 1879. In 1880, J.H. & C.S. Odell of New York built an organ for the chancel and it was installed in 1880.
Later in 1927 plans were made to replace the original organs by new models to be built by George Kilgen & Son of Missouri. The chancel organ was replaced with a new carved oak and gothic designed model that had 1480 pipes in 1928. The gallery organ was replaced by a new 7855 pipe model that cost $250,000 and took three years to build. It has one of the nation’s most beautiful wood facades which features angels and Latin inscriptions.
A complete restoration of these beautiful instruments was completed in 1997. Today the organs consist of more than 9000 pipes, 206 stops, 150 ranks, and 10 divisions combined.