Saint Patrick’s Cathedral NYC

Hi friends, welcome back! In honor of St. Patrick’s Day Friday, I thought it was fitting to share the iconic St. Patrick’s Cathedral. This church is named after the patron saint of Ireland and the seat of the Archdiocese of New York. This gothic cathedral is massive and takes up an entire block between Madison and Fifth Avenue from 50th and 51st Street. The entrance is on Fifth Avenue and it is neighbors with Saks Fifth Avenue and one block from Rockefeller.

My office used to be across Madison Avenue so I would see this cathedral and hear the bells almost every day, but never ventured inside until recently. On Madison Avenue, the structure on the left is the archbishop’s residence, the Lady Chapel is in the middle, and the Rectory is on the right.

Construction on St. Patrick’s began in 1858 after the parish outgrew the original St. Patrick’s on Mulberry Street in Lower Manhattan. At the time of construction, the site (51st and Fifth Avenue) was considered too far outside the city, but now it is in the center of the city that never sleeps. People doubted Archbishop John Hughes and architect James Renwick, but they clearly knew what they were doing.

Construction was interrupted by the Civil War and they also went over budget and ran out of money. A fair was held in 1878 that raised over $178,000 to buy furnishings, and the doors officially opened in 1879.

The spires were added on in 1888 and the church is constantly a work in progress to pass on to future generations. Construction of the Lady Chapel began in 1900 and the stained glass windows were installed over the next twenty five years coming from England, France, and Germany.

I’ve walked this block so many times but I was still surprised by just how large the interior is. It is 332 feet long, a little less than a football field, and can hold over 2,400 people. I loved how peaceful it felt inside, it makes you forget that you’re in the middle of NYC. It reminded me a lot of being inside the Sacre Coeur in Paris.

Along the exterior walls are beautiful chapels carved in white marble for different saints.

The church is currently undergoing a $200 million restoration that is nearing completion. The renovation is the biggest undertaking since the 1970s and included stone repairs and cleaning, replacing stained glass windows, organ overhaul, interior repairs and cleaning, IT upgrades, and a geothermal system to heat/cool the Cathedral. Saint Patrick’s was covered in scaffolding from 2007-2015 while these repairs were being made. Lucky for me this occurred before I moved to the city.

This is a before and after from the St. Patrick’s website of the exterior renovations. The cleaning was worth every penny!

These bronze doors weigh 9,000 pounds each and were restored in 2013. I love how they are left open so you can see the action outside while enjoying the serenity inside.

It’s estimated that five million people a year pay a visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It also hosted some historic events such as Babe Ruth, Vince Lombardi, and Robert F. Kennedy’s funerals. Tours are available from 9am – 6pm daily and you can take a group tour for $113 or, a self-guided iPad tour for $27. I watched this YouTube tour beforehand to know what to look for.

I’m glad I finally made it inside this beautiful cathedral. As you can see, it is definitely worth taking a look around and makes for a great spot to take a break from the hustle and bustle on Fifth Avenue.

36 thoughts on “Saint Patrick’s Cathedral NYC

  1. A little bit of the Old World in the New World. We never made it inside on our trips to NYC. Thanks for taking us there Lyssy. Happy Wednesday. Allan

  2. A $200 million restoration! I’d say the Catholic Church is doing just fine. We stayed at the New York Palace when our son lived in Queens a few years ago, and I’ll never forget the view of St. Patrick’s from our room, right across the street. The interiors are surprisingly light and bright for a cathedral this size. I expected the darker, dingier look of some of the ones in Europe. If you ever go to Ireland, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin is older and less grand by comparison. We were more impressed with Christ Church Cathedral instead.

    1. Dave, I have also been to all three of those cathedrals. I would hate to have to pick one. Luckily while in St. Patrick’s Cathedral the organist came to rehearse. Unbelievable visual and audio experience.

    2. Oh yes that is a nice hotel! It must’ve been brighter from all the cleaning work they did. Ireland is on our list and I’ll be sure to go to both Cathedrals!

  3. Wow, from the outside it appears quite small surrounded by the giant skyscrapers, but it’s very large and grand inside. So many small details in each of your pictures, it must be amazing in person. Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Maggie

    1. It’s tricky to photography the outside because I can’t get far enough away to get the whole thing because the buildings are all in the way. It does feel very grand inside and it such an intricate interior. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

  4. Lyssy, I have been in that cathedral and it is breathtaking. I remember watching the funeral of Bobby Kennedy and watching his brother Ted give the eulogy on t.v. Walking into the cathedral, I could visualize it all over again…….question, is that painting a replica of the Black Madonna.

    1. It is breathtaking! I’d love to hear the Christmas music being played in there. I think it is a replica, but I am not positive on that one.

      1. The original is in Poland. We have seen it. I just am not sure if the painting in the NYC cathedral is the Black Madonna. I found out that she has many different outfits (like a paper doll) and so they change her clothes.

  5. Spectacular, Lyssy! You did a fantastic job of photographing St. Patrick’s. Those gorgeous European cathedrals don’t have anything over this one. I had never seen the inside until your post and I’m highly impressed. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you! I was very impressed too and couldn’t believe I hadn’t been inside sooner. It might lack all the history of the European cathedrals, but not the beauty.

  6. Great photos of both the exterior and interior of the cathedral which looks beautiful and so filled with light. Only the interior gave me the idea of how massive the cathedral is, since it’s kind of dwarfed by the towering skyscrapers. The stained glass windows are gorgeous.

    1. Thank you! It is really hard to tell how large it is from the outside. The buildings make it hard to backup to get the full scale, but luckily my iPhone can do the .5 zoom. It is a cool contrast with the skyscrapers.

  7. So beautiful and the perfect place to check out around Saint Patrick’s Day. Someday, when we come up to New York City, we will have to stop by. Your photos are always gorgeous and you can really see all the details in them, thank you for sharing this. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!!!

    1. Thank you!! You will definitely have to stop in when you visit NYC, it’s such a beautiful Cathedral. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!!

  8. Thanks so much for sharing with us; I haven’t been inside since I was in high school and used to take trips into the city with my grandparents. I always thought it was such a beautiful church and it reminded me of the grand cathedrals I saw in Paris too.

    1. So glad you enjoyed this! It is really beautiful and so nice to have in the middle of the city.

    1. It is cool to see the contrast of the church with the skyscrapers! It’s a stunning cathedral.

  9. I absolutely loved this cathedral on our visit to NYC. It looks almost unassuming from the outside, and then inside it’s just so much bigger than expected 🙂

  10. How beautiful! The sight of the cathedral surrounded by skyscrapers seems very North-American to me ahah! But that’s probably also what makes it seem smaller than it actually is – because it does look huge from the inside! Thanks for sharing!

  11. It was only during my last stay in New York that I entered St. Patrick’s, having passed it several times on previous occasions. I was touched to see that there was a box to help fund the work on Notre Dame in Paris after its fire.

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