NEW YORK — “If these walls could talk.” It’s a bit clichéd, but think for a moment about the many historic events — both good and bad — that the walls of St. Paul’s Chapel have seen during the past 240-plus years.
The chapel was completed in 1766 as a “chapel of ease” for those who could not make it to the Parish of Trinity Church. Ten years later, the church survived the Great Fire of New York. In 1789, George Washington attended services here on Inauguration Day and continued to attend the church for two more years as the city served as the nation’s capital.
Years later, on Sept. 11, 2001, the church was only yards away from the worst terrorist attack on American soil.
The church, which is the oldest surviving house of worship in the city, is perhaps the most moving of the churches in New York. On Sept. 11, 2001, and in the following weeks, the Chapel was used by emergency workers as a place to rest. Today, the Chapel is a memorial to that horrible day, including the pews emergency workers used when they need to rest, even if just for a few minutes.