It was a sunny Autumn day in New York City when we came across Trinity Wall Street.
Striding briskly through the frenzy of the city’s Financial District, in lower Manhattan, we were unexpectedly faced with an extraordinary sight – an old burial ground of tilting headstones, manicured green lawns and shady trees.
Alongside this green oasis – in the shadows of surrounding skyscrapers – stood a magnificent old stone church built in the classic Gothic Revival style.
We meandered along the stone pathways of the graveyard to discover that we’d stumbled upon a venerable American institution – Trinity Wall Street Episcopal church and its famous 300-year-old cemetery.
Photo courtesy: Village Voice
Apparently, the church site dates to 1697 when it was earmarked by the English King William 111 as the Anglican seat in the capital city.
There have been three church buildings on the site – near the corner of Wall Street and Broadway.
The current structure was built in 1846 and has been designated as a national historic landmark because of its architectural significance and place in the history of New York City.
We were told that, at the time of its completion, the 281 foot Neo-Gothic spire, surmounted by a gilded cross, dominated the skyline of lower Manhattan and was the highest point in New York until being surpassed in 1890 by the New York World Building.
Trinity became a welcoming beacon for ships sailing into New York Harbor.
Pausing in the shady cemetery, we also discovered that the two-and-a-half-acre yard contained the tombstones and memorials of notable 18th Century New Yorkers, including many leading participants of the American revolution and the early years of Republic.
We were also intrigued by the obviously more modern bronze sculpture of a tree alongside Trinity Church.
Apparently, the base of the sculpture is made from the roots of a huge sycamore tree that had stood for almost a century before it was flattened by falling debris from the nearby World Trade Centre after the September 11 terror attacks in 2001.
During the attack, people took refuge in Trinity from choking clouds of dust.
The tree sculpture carries a credit to artist, Steve Tobin.
Heading back into the busy Manhattan Financial District, we marvelled at the enormous contrast of such an oasis of calm and tranquility amid the hustle and bustle.
From Central Park to the High Line and Turtle Pond, such contrasts are not uncommon in New York City, where a special kind of beauty can await around almost any corner.
Main photo courtesy Gigi alt (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons