Along the Way: Riverside Church, New York City

Along the Way: Riverside Church, New York City

We had no intention of visiting Riverside Church in New York. We hadn’t even heard of it before. But when we left the General Grant Memorial, we were drawn by its impressive architecture. Finding the ornate doors open, we wandered inside.

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The church was conceived by industrialist, financier, and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and minister Harry Emerson Fosdick as a large, interdenominational church, open to all who profess faith in Christ. Today, its congregation includes more than forty ethnic groups.

Over the years the church has hosted many notable speakers. Martin Luther King Jr. voiced his opposition to the Vietnam War at Riverside on April 4, 1967. That is also known as his Riverside Church speech. The Rev. Jesse Jackson gave the eulogy at Jackie Robinson’s funeral service in 1972. Former President Bill Clinton spoke at Riverside Church on August 29, 2004. Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan spoke there after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Cesar Chavez, Desmond Tutu, Fidel Castro, Arundhati Roy and Nelson Mandela have all spoken at Riverside Church.

It is stunning, inside and out. It is the tallest church in the United States. The bell tower alone is built on a frame that is 22 stories high.

As soon as you step foot inside the church you forget that you are in New York City because it feels so much more like a centuries-old European cathedral.

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A feeling that is echoed again inside the sanctuary:

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And the stained glass windows are beautiful as well.  Here is a close up that shows Eve, forbidden fruit still in her hand:

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The gardens outside were quite beautiful too.

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We took our time and were able to wander through the church at our leisure. It was a lovely diversion and I’m so glad we decided to stop there! That’s why it’s important to leave a little wiggle room in your sightseeing plans for things that you find along the way.

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The Riverside Church is located at 490 Riverside Drive, New York, New York 10027, one block from the General Grant Memorial.  Telephone 212-870-6700.  Guided tours are available for a fee of $10 per adult (seniors and students, $5).  Call or visit website for more information.

 

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