St. Paul’s Chapel, part of the Episcopal parish of Trinity Wall Street, was famous for a long time as the house of worship where George Washington prayed after his inauguration as the first President of the United States in 1789. But a formative experience in 1776, only a decade after the church's founding, might have given it greater preparation for its more recent renown.
Four years ago, a leather fire bucket was discovered in the venerable church’s steeple—evidence of a bucket brigade of men, women and children formed to save it from “The Great Fire” that broke out in the early days of the American Revolution.
On September 11, 2001, the church had an even more searing brush with disaster. Only a sycamore tree in its cemetery protected it from destruction when the World Trade Center across the street was destroyed. For the following eight months, the church became a haven for recovery workers, who often rested in the pews.
I took this photograph this past Monday, on my way to see the 9/11 Memorial. New York City, and especially Lower Manhattan, has remade itself several times over the years--including since 9/11--but St. Paul's Chapel endures.