The original Trinity Church was built in 1698. At the time, it was one of the tallest buildings in Manhattan (hard to believe today) and the church's spire acted as a beacon to ships arriving in New York Harbor. In 1709, the church began a charity school, whose first classes were held in the steeple of the church, and in 1754, a school of higher education, King's College, was added. That school continues today as Columbia University.
The first Trinity Church was destroyed by a massive fire in 1776 that razed over 500 buildings in lower Manhattan. The second Trinity Church was completed in 1790 and counted George Washington among its parishioners. The second church was hastily constructed, however, and suffered extensive damage in a 1838 snowstorm. It was torn down in 1839.
The present Trinity Church was completed in 1846, designed by Richard Upjohn in the popular Gothic Revival style. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976. Trinity continues to be an active, vibrant parish.
St. Paul's Chapel, a nearby part of Trinity Church is the oldest public building in continuous use in New York City. Miraculously, the chapel, located across from the World Trade Center site, escaped damage during the 9/11 attacks and served as a community shelter and source of inspiration for thousands of New Yorkers during that difficult time.
Trinity Church is affiliated with three historic burial sites. The burial ground at Wall Street and Broadway is the final resting place for Alexander Hamilton and his wife, inventor Robert Fulton, printer William Bradford, and several members of the Continental Congress. The Church also maintains a cemetery at Riverside Drive and e.155th St., on the former estate of James Audubon. Mr. Audubon is buried there as well as several members of the Astor family, including John Jacob Astor IV who died on the "Titanic," and Clement Clarke Moore, the author of "The Night Before Christmas." The third is connected to St. Paul's Chapel and is home to many historic, pre-Revolutionary War graves.