The red sandstone of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church caught my attention. I positioned myself to photograph the tower so that its shape mirrored the angles of the blue glass skyscraper in the background. The old and the modern, the warm red bricks and the cool blue glass, the spiritual and the commercial all provide a nice juxtaposition. Of course, the skyscraper dwarfs the church. But back in 1875, Fifth Avenue Presbyterian was the tallest building in Manhattan.
I did some checking and the church has some historical connections with two commissions I had with the National Park Service. One of the first officers of the church was Richard Varick who had served as Mayor of the city. Varick had also served as an aide to George Washington, whose military headquarters in Morristown, New Jersey, I had photographed.
Another political heavyweight was Theodore Roosevelt, who attended his son’s wedding at the church in 1910 together with 500 of his former Rough Riders. Roosevelt’s home and summer White House – Sagamore Hill – on Long Island was another historic structure I photographed for the National Park Service.
There is a lot of hidden history within the architectural icons of New York such as this church.
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