August 19, 2016

1279-1294, 2689 UNITED STATES (New York) - Trinity Church in Manhattan

1279 Trinity Church from Wall Street in nowadays

Posted on 12.10.2014, 19.08.2016
Located in lower Manhattan, near the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway, this Anglican church has served as an urban landmark since the 19th century, and even was a welcoming beacon for ships sailing into New York Harbor. Actually the current Trinity Church, a classic example of Gothic Revival architecture designed by architect Richard Upjohn and finished in 1846, was the third builded on the site, and at the time of its completion its 86m spire and cross was the highest point in New York until being surpassed in 1890 by the New York World Building.

1280 Trinity Church from Wall Street in 1946

In 1696, Governor Benjamin Fletcher approved the purchase of land in Lower Manhattan by the Church of England community for construction of a new church. The parish received its charter from King William III on May 6, 1697. Its land grant specified an annual rent of sixty bushels of wheat. The first Trinity Church building, a modest rectangular structure with a gambrel roof and small porch, was constructed in 1698. According to historical records, Captain William Kidd lent the runner and tackle from his ship for hoisting the stones.

2689 Trinity Church from Wall Street
on the beginning of the 20th century

Anne, Queen of Great Britain, increased the parish's land holdings to 215 acres in 1705. In 1709, William Huddleston founded Trinity School as the Charity School of the church, and classes were originally held in the steeple of the church. In 1754, King's College (now Columbia University) was chartered by King George II of Great Britain and instruction began with eight students in a school building near the church. The church was destroyed in the Great New York City Fire of 1776, which started in the Fighting Cocks Tavern, destroying nearly 500 buildings and houses and leaving thousands of New Yorkers homeless.
1281 Trinity Church looking North &
World Trade Center

Six days later, most of the city's volunteer firemen followed General Washington north. The Rev. Samuel Provoost, was appointed Rector of Trinity (1784-1800) in 1784 and the New York State Legislature ratified the charter of Trinity Church, deleting the provision that asserted its loyalty to the King of England. Whig patriots were appointed as vestrymen. In 1787, Provoost was consecrated as the first Bishop of the newly formed Diocese of New York. Following his 1789 inauguration at Federal Hall, George Washington attended Thanksgiving service at St. Paul's Chapel, a chapel of the Parish of Trinity Church. He continued to attend services there until the second Trinity Church was finished in 1790. St. Paul's Chapel is currently part of the Parish of Trinity Church and is the oldest public building in continuous use in New York City.

1282 Trinity Church looking North before 1966

The second Trinity Church was torn down after being weakened by severe snows during the winter of 1838-1839. In 1843, Trinity Church's expanding parish was divided due to the burgeoning cityscape and to better serve the needs of its parishioners. The newly formed parish would build Grace Church, to the north on Broadway at 10th street, while the original parish would re-build Trinity Church, the structure that stands today. Both Grace and Trinity Churches were completed and consecrated in 1846. The architect Richard Upjohn, founder of the American Institute of Architects, designed the Church in a Neo-Gothic fashion complete with sandstone and stained-glass windows, two features previously unheard of at the time. Overall, the exterior is very linear in design with emphasis on the vertical lines giving the impression that everything is pointing upward. Upjohn's designe reflected a "High Church" fashion with holy images that appeared glamorous to the eye. The one curious aspect of the predominantly Gothic architecture is that there are no flying buttresses.

1283 Trinity Church looking North

The interior of the Church is Gothic in design as well. The altar contains many Gothic-like lines which are high and pointed. Numerous reredos depicting several religious figures are enclosed in the altar. In 1976 the United States Department of the Interior designated Trinity Church a National Historic Landmark because of its architectural significance and its place within the history of New York City. On July 9, 1976, Queen Elizabeth II visited Trinity Church. Vestrymen presented her with a symbolic "back rent" of 279 peppercorns. King William III, in 1697, gave Trinity Church a charter that called for the parish to pay an annual rent of one peppercorn to the crown. During the September 11, 2001 attacks, as the 1st Tower collapsed, people took refuge from the massive debris cloud inside the church.

1284 The nave and altar of Trinity Church

In 1876-1877 a reredos and altar was erected in memory of William Backhouse Astor, Sr., to the designs of architect Frederick Clarke Withers. Trinity had a long association with the Astor family, dating to 1804 when John Jacob Astor took over Vice President Aaron Burr’s 99-year ground lease on the Richmond Hill estate - property owned by Trinity Church. From 1804 until 1866, the Astor family earned millions in real estate by subleasing Trinity’s land. The Astors were prominent members of the Episcopal community throughout the 19th century. Some belonged to Trinity Parish, while others worshipped at chapels and churches around the region. The Altar is almost 3,5m long, and is constructed of pure white statuary marble supporting capitals carved in natural foliage dividing the front and side into panels. In the centre panel, which is carved with passion flowers, is a Maltese cross in mosaic, set with cameos, a head of Jesus being in the centre, and the symbols of the Evangelists at the extremities of the four arms; this panel is flanked by two kneeling angels, the one in adoration and the other in prayer. The other panels in front, which are carved with ears of wheat, are also in mosaic, and contain the Pelican and the Agnus Dei, and those at the side, the Sacred Monograms.

1285 Altar and Retable of the Astor
Reredos of Trinity Church

The design of the reredos is in the perpendicular style of Gothic, so as to be in keeping with that of the Church. It is constructed of Caen stone, elaborately carved. In the lower portion on each side of the Altar, are three square panels filled with colored mosaics in geometrical patterns. Above the line of the super-altar are seven panels of white marble, sculptured in alto-relievo, representing incidents in the life of Jesus immediately preceding and subsequent to the Last Supper. The reredos is divided into three bays by buttresses, which contain under canopies on their face four Doctors of the Church (St. Gregory, St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, and St. Jerome). In the center bay, under a large multifoiled arch, forming a Baldachino, is represented the Crucifixion in high relief.

1286 Altarpiece from the Baptistry of Trinity Church

The baptistery is on the north side of the nave, and its altarpiece dates from the early 14th century and is in the Florentine School. Trinity Church has three sets of impressive bronze doors conceived by Richard Morris Hunt to recall Lorenzo Ghiberti's famed doors on Florence's Baptistery. These date from 1893 and were produced by Karl Bitter (east door), J. Massey Rhind (north door) and Charles Henry Niehaus (south door). The doors were also a gift from William Waldorf Astor, 1st Viscount Astor in memory of John Jacob Astor III. The north and east door each consist of six panels from Church So I got the postcard in my opinion is reliable. and the south door depicts the history of Manhattan Island and Trinity Parish in its six panels.

1287 Panel III (the Annunciation) of the front bronze door of Trinity Church

The door of the main portal consists of two leaves surmounted by a tympanum. Each leaf has three panels, and these constitute pairs. The events should be followed from bottom to top, in an ascending scale, the gradual development of the scheme of Salvation. When the doors are open, and one faces the altar, panels Nos. I, III and V will be found on the left leaf of the door, and panels Nos. II, IV and VI on the right. Panels I and II depict the period preceding the coming of Christ (the expulsion from Paradise and the dream of Jacob). Panels III and IV depict the time when Jesus was on earth (the Annunciation and the empty sepulchre). Panels V and VI present two visions taken from the Apocalypse (the worship of the Church in Glory, and the triumph of Divine Justice over an ungodly and rebellious world). Recumbent figures border the panels and are allegorical depictions representing; Morality, Sin, Time, Tradition, Eternity, and Divine Justice.

1288 Panel III (Washington Entering St. Paul's Chapel after his
Inauguration as President) of the south bronze door of Trinity Church

The south door has also six demi-relief panels, each depicting a scene in the history of Manhattan and the Trinity Church: Hendrik Hudson on the Half moon Discovering Manhattan Island; Dr. Barclay Preaching to the Indians; Washington Entering St. Paul's Chapel after his Inauguration as President; The Consecration of Four Bishop's in St. Paul's Chapel; Consecration of Trinity Church; and The Dedication of the Astor Reredos. The doors are of rich design and skillful workmanship, and may be seen to the best advantage when they are closed.

1289 Section of the West Chancel window stained glass

Stained-glass windows can be seen from the sides of the Church all the way to the front. The most remarkable of these stained-glass windows is the chancel window towering above the altar. This brilliant design resembles a Gothic pointed arch and depicts Jesus, St. Peter, St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke, St. John, and St. Paul in a dazzling array of colors. Many other religious figures are depicted in this window, including representations of the Trinity and the Eucharist.

1290 All Saints Chapel in Trinity Church

All Saints' Chapel was built as a memorial to The Rev. Dr. Morgan Dix (1827-1908), Rector of Trinity Church from 1862-1908. Also known as Dix Memorial Chapel, it is an addition to Trinity Church designed by Thomas Nash and built from 1911-1913. The chapel is used primarily for prayer and an occasional private service. During the Rev. Dr. Morgan Dix’s forty-six year rectorship, the Parish of Trinity Church grew in a number of ways, adding six chapels and five charities, and the old Varick Street rectory was converted into Trinity Hospital. He was intellectually curious, and pursued research on a wide variety of theological and historical topics. Dix was a patron of the arts, and was active in the development of musical standards at Trinity during his rectorate. His literary activities included numerous publications, most notably a biography of his politically and militarily prominent father, John A. Dix.

1291 Trinity Churchyard - burial ground

There are three burial grounds closely associated with Trinity Church: Trinity Churchyard (at Wall Street and Broadway), Trinity Church Cemetery and Mausoleum on Riverside Drive (at 155th Street), and Churchyard of St. Paul's Chapel. Trinity's beautifully kept chuchyard predates the church's establishment by Royal Charter in 1697. Among the 1,186 graves are those belonging to William Bradford, printer to the U.S. Goverment for more than half a century; to Robert Fulton, the first person to successfully apply steam power to ship locomotion; to Franklin Wharton, the third Commandant of the United States Marine Corps; to James Lawrence, an famous naval officer; to Albert Gallatin, the founder of New York University; and to Alexander Hamilton, framer of the Constitution and first Secretary of the Treasury.

1292 Alexander Hamilton's Grave

Alexander Hamilton (1755 or 1757-1804) was a brilliant aide to Washington during the war, as chief of his staff. He came to prominence in the new Republic as the youngest of the 55 framers of the U.S. Constitution, and one of its most influential interpreters and promoters. He was the first secretary of the Treasury and founded the country's first central bank, and also the founder of the first American political party. Hamilton was mortally wounded in a duel with Vice President Aaron Burr.

1293 Alexander Hamilton's Grave

In the churchyard, in addition to Hamilton's grave, there is a memorial to the unknown martyrs of the revolution buried on the grounds. There is another Society of the Cincinnati memorial for the 16 officers of the Continental Army and Navy buried in the cemeteries maintained by the church. There is also a memorial to the thousands of Americans who died in prison ships in New York harbor. A reminder of Trinity's regal beginnings is the heroic statue in the southeast part of the cemetary near Broadway. It is of John Watts, the last Royal Recorder of the City of New York, who died in 1863. He served the newly independent country as Congressman, endowed an orphanage, and was a co-founder of a public health clinic.

1294 The sculpture Trinity Root, by Steve Tobin

During the September 11, 2001 attacks, as the 1st Tower collapsed, people took refuge from the massive debris cloud inside the church. Falling wreckage from the collapsing tower knocked over a giant sycamore tree that had stood for nearly a century in the churchyard of St. Paul's Chapel, which is part of Trinity Church's parish and is located several blocks north of Trinity Church. Sculptor Steve Tobin used its roots as the base for a bronze sculpture installed in September 2005 in the south courtyard of the church, named even Trinity Root. Tobin financed the $330,000 sculpture himself, taking out a home equity loan to do so.

About the stamps

The Medal of Honor: World War II Forever® stamps, issued on November 11 2013, features the United States' highest award for valor in combat. It is presented "for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty." The two stamps - one depicting the Army version of the award, the other showing the Navy version - are surrounded by historic photos of the last 12 living recipients of the WWII medal. Sadly, Senator Daniel K. Inouye and Vernon McGarity died before the stamps could be issued, as did Nicholas Oresko, who died after the stamps were printed. More than 16 million people served with the American armed forces during WWII, but only 464 were chosen to receive the Medal of Honor. More than half were killed in action.

The Modern Art in America: 1913-1931 commemorative First-Class Mail Forever stamps were issued on March 7, 2013. The masterpieces reproduced on this stamps include:
• I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold (1928) by Charles Demuth
• Sunset, Maine Coast (1919) by John Marin
• House and Street (1931) by Stuart Davis
• Painting, Number 5 (1914-1915) by Marsden Hartley
• Black Mesa Landscape, New Mexico/Out Back of Marie’s II (1930) by Georgia O’Keeffe
• Noire et Blanche (1926) by Man Ray
• The Prodigal Son (1927) by Aaron Douglas
• American Landscape (1930) by Charles Sheeler
• Brooklyn Bridge (1919-1920) by Joseph Stella 
• Razor (1924) by Gerald Murphy
• Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 (1912) by Marcel Duchamp
• Fog Horns (1929) by Arthur Dove
Art director Derry Noyes worked on the stamp pane with designer Margaret Bauer. To learn more about the stories behind the stamps, visit

About the stamp featuring the portrait of George Washington, I wrote here. On the postcards are also stamps from the series Building a Nation, about which I wrote here. Another stamp, depicting Spicebush Swallowtail, is part of a definitive series with butterflies, about which I wrote here. About the stamp which pays tribute to the majestic emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri), I wrote here.

On the postcard 2689 are the two stamps of the series Pluto - Explored!, designed by Antonio Alcalá and issued on May 31, 2016. These stamps celebrates NASA's history-making first reconnaissance of Pluto in 2015 by the New Horizons mission. One stamp shows an artist's rendering of the New Horizons spacecraft. The other shows the spacecraft's striking image of Pluto taken near closest approach.

Another stamp from the postcard 2689, depicting Ralph Bunche, was issued on January 12, 1982. Ralph Bunche (1904-1971) was a black-American official of the United Nations, honored for his mediation of the 1948-1949 Arab-Israeli War with the 1950 Nobel Prize. Bunche served during WWII in the Office of Strategic Services, and in 1944 joined the State Department. He was the first African American to head a division of that department. He joined the U.N. staff in 1946, was appointed the following year to the Palestine Commission, and one year later became chief mediator in the Palestine conflict. Later a U.N. under secretary, he directed the U.N. peace-keeping forces at Suez in 1956, in the Congo in 1960, and in Cyprus in 1964.

This is a post for Sunday Stamps #191, run by Viridian from Viridian’s Postcard Blog. The theme of this week is: anything you wish. Click on the button to visit Viridian’s blog and all the other participants.

Trinity Church - Official website
Trinity Church (Manhattan) - Wikipedia
Trinity Church (Episcopal) - New York Architecture
Trinity Church - Fordham University website
A History of the Parish of Trinity Church in the City of New York, by Morgan Dix - Forgotten Books

Sender: Denise 
1279, 1281, 1283-1294: Sent from Greenvale (New York / United States), on 22.02.2014
1280, 1282: Sent from Greenvale (New York / United States), on 15.02.2014
2689: Sent from Greenvale (New York / United States), on 14.06.2016 


  1. How amazing to have 16 cards of one building (and a run of stamps). I like all the different views and the root sculpture is fascinating.

  2. A very interesting post and a series of stamps that I would love to have. The Medal of Honour is the only one that has reached me.

  3. I was interested to see the modern art stamps used and that some cards had stamps on the left side. I bought a a sheet of the modern art stamps and found them hard to use because of their size. I didn't know whether putting some stamps on the left was allowed.

  4. You have a wonderful correspondent, to send you all of these cards and stamps! Thank you for an informative post.

  5. I love both the modern art stamps and the black and white stamps. Especially the one shwoing the woman who's typing (on a 'linotype', I learned by your other blog post!). Thank you for sharing!