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Riverside Church, New York City

#27 of 118 in Historic Sites in New York City
Observation Deck · Hidden Gem · Religious Site
Riverside Church is a Baptist and Congregationalist church in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, on the block bounded by Riverside Drive, Claremont Avenue, 120th Street and 122nd Street near Columbia University's Morningside Heights campus and across from Grant's Tomb. It is an interdenominational church that is associated with the American Baptist Churches USA and the United Church of Christ. The church was conceived by philanthropist businessman and Baptist John D. Rockefeller Jr. in conjunction with Presbyterian minister Harry Emerson Fosdick as a large, interdenominational church in Morningside Heights, which is surrounded by academic institutions.

The original building opened in 1930; it was designed by Henry C. Pelton and Allen & Collens in the Neo-Gothic style. It contains a nave consisting of five architectural bays; a chancel at the front of the nave; a 22-story, 392-foot (119 m) tower above the nave; a narthex and chapel; and a cloistered passageway that connects to the eastern entrance on Claremont Avenue. The main feature of the church is the 74-bell carillon near the top of the tower, which is dedicated to John Rockefeller Jr.'s mother Laura Spelman Rockefeller. A seven-story wing was built to the south of the original building in 1959 to a design by Collens, Willis & Beckonert, and was renamed for Martin Luther King Jr. in 1985. The Stone Gym to the southeast was built in 1915 as a dormitory; this was designed by Louis E. Jallade and was converted to a gymnasium in 1962.

Riverside Church has been a focal point of global and national activism since its inception, and it has a long history of social justice in adherence to Fosdick's original vision of an "interdenominational, interracial, and international" church. Its congregation includes members of more than forty ethnic groups. The church was designated as a city landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 2000 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.
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Riverside Church reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
163 reviews
  • Riverside Church is a magnificent structure and an inspiring house of worship, especially when they have the handbell and choir concerts. The Church is situated adjacent to a park along the Hudson...  more »
  • We traveled from NJ with a group to this wonderful event. The church itself if magnificent. The stained-glass windows alone are worth the trip. There are tours all year of the church as well as...  more »
  • So I never thought that I would attend a party at a church. However there all space is actually pretty extravagant. I didn't know Riverside Church allowed secular events on his premises. But it does and we had an awesome time. It wasn't overly churchy like you might expect it to be, which was a shocker to me. I think if you're looking for an event space Uptown to support at least 500 people, You should definitely consider reaching out to them. This event that I intended to was a white party, so the outfits juxtaposed to the ambiance of the event space made for very sexy evening. Again I can't believe I'm saying that about an event space in a church, but it really was pretty awesome.
  • The architecture is amazing. There is no need to go out of the country when we have amazing architecture like this one. They provide guided tours for those who are interested. They are very welcoming there to ALL people and provide a lot of services to different communities.

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