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Fodor's New York City 2014
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St. Patrick's Cathedral
St. Patrick's Cathedral Review
This Gothic edifice—the largest Catholic cathedral in the United States, seating approximately 2,400 people—is among Manhattan's most striking churches, with its double spires topping out at 330 feet. St. Pat's, as locals call it, holds a special place in the hearts of many New Yorkers and offers a calm and quiet refuge in the heart of buzzy midtown... despite the throngs of tourists (the cathedral receives more than 5.5 million visitors annually) and ongoing renovations.
The church dates back to 1858–79 and has begun to show its age. Hence, the cocoon of scaffolding, inside and out, as it undergoes an extensive $177 million rehabilitation project. The cathedral is open during renovations, and is slowly revealing its shiny new-old self: the stone faces of the spires that tower above 5th Avenue have been cleaned and caulked and the copper crosses that crown them polished. Interior scaffolding is constantly on the move as work progresses but if you're lucky, you can catch a glimpse of the organ loft and the famous rose window (considered stained-glass artist Charles Connick's greatest work). You can still check out the statues in the alcoves around the nave, including a modern depiction of the first American-born saint, Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton. Don't miss a highlight in your rush to enter or leave; the ornately carved bronze double doors, each weighing 9,200 pounds and featuring sculptures of saints, underwent a painstaking, three-month restoration that cost about $500,000.
The church's Pieta sculpture is three times larger than the Pieta in St. Peter's Rome. Construction does not interfere with daily masses or the free guided tours held at 10 am most days (call ahead to confirm).
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