In 1887, Father Matthew A. Taylor founded the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, and in 1919, in an effort to accommodate an impressive following, the Roman Catholic Church was moved to its current residence just in front of the School of the Blessed Sacrament. Designed by architect Gustave E. Steinback, the building draws on Gothic Revival styles. The exterior stone facade stands proudly with arched stone ridges, detailed carvings, and heavy wooden doors, but it is the immaculate rose window that presents the most marvels. On the inside, the window is even more awe-inspiring, glowing in a spectrum of soft hues that fill the space with natural light complemented by more stain glass panels on the sidewalls and a beautifully designed tile floor.
Originally designed by architect Stephen D. Hatch for a Methodist church in 1880, this building was taken over by the Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church ten years later. In 1939, the German-founded congregation merged with that of St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran to become Grace & St. Paul's Church. Today the church retains its beautiful brownstone facade, a mixture of Gothic and Victorian expression.
The Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity was established in 1868, and moved to its 65th Street location in 1904. The current building was designed by William Schickel in neo-gothic architecture with German influences. The congregation enters through bold red doors on Central Park West. I, however, visited on a day when these doors were shut tight. Nevertheless, I rang the side street doorbell and had the pleasure of being greeted by Bonnie, who works in the office. She was so pleased to show off the sanctuary and quickly unlocked the doors for me to enter. Once inside, it is a sight to behold. True to its name, the Holy Trinity Church has many architectural and decorative trios, including three arches over the chancel, three arms on the altar's cross, and three openings in each bay of upper windows. Bonnie shared with me that the church is especially well known for its integration of music in worship. Their Bach Vespers bring baroque music into the liturgy, with a professional Bach Choir and Bach Players who perform on period instruments. She pointed out the organ built by the renowned Paul Fritts, as well as a second organ, a harpsichord, and a Steinway piano.
I had no idea, when I saw a little red-roofed church nestled among the skyscrapers, that I was entering the oldest church on the Upper West Side. Christ and Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church is the result of a series of mergers between some of the oldest parishes in the city. St. Stephen’s Church was founded in 1805 and later merged with the Church of the Advent in 1873. In 1897, the congregation moved to its current location. For a long time, St. Stephen’s was a rival of the nearby Christ Church, since they were both episcopal churches and geographically very close to one another. In 1975, however, after noticing dwindling numbers among the congregations, the two churches combined. I immediately felt a sense of calm upon entering the quiet space. There is no lobby, and so visitors enter straight into the main body of the church. Eerily glowing stained glass windows line the walls and function both as decorations and memorials. Many of the windows have the names of deceased congregation members worked into them. I was surprised and pleased to find some stained glass at the back of the church commemorating members from the 1800s. The church is clearly a place of history, harmony, and serenity.
With a marble exterior and copper dome, this French Renaissance style edifice became home to both the First and Second Church of Christ in 1901. It is grounded in Christian Science, a practice founded by Rev. Mary Baker Eddy in 1868 that commemorates the healing powers of Jesus Christ.
Walking into Java Girl feels like coming home. In addition to the cafe being host to a friendly assortment of mismatched cushions, a cuckoo clock, an antique mirror, and other objects of curiosity, this was my go-to shop when I lived on East 67th Street. My friends and family members knew that I did not own a coffee pot and therefore we always had to stop by this neighborhood favorite. I was thrilled to be revisiting an old haunt, and on this particular day, I chose a seat in the window nook, settling in for a chat with Java Girl herself. In the mid-nineties, Linda Rizutto was working for a major retailer, wondering what it was that she wanted to do next. She would sit in a coffee shop with her journal and contemplate her options. "And then the opportunity came, " Linda told me. In 1998, the west half of Java Girl became available for rent. Linda decided to take her own journey as inspiration, and create a coffee shop that would give other people the space and time to think about their lives. In 2001, Linda expanded into the second half of the cafe. "It created what I was dreaming of, and that was a place to let people come and decompress, whether it's for twenty minutes or two hours. "Linda truly is the "Java Girl. " She has crafted an amazingly diverse selection of coffee offerings, each 100% Arabica and hand-picked, from the volcanic soil of Mount Kilimanjaro to the fertile Costa Rican rainforest. Java Girl's exotic beans are all roasted locally by third generation roasters in Long Island City and the flavored coffees are done so by hand without any chemical processing. Not only does Linda know coffee, she also has a well-curated and enticing selection of gourmet loose-leaf teas, some of which are blended in-house. In the mornings, her oatmeal smoothie is a popular choice and hearty kickstart to the day. Over the years, Linda's customers have become regulars, allowing her to develop strong relationships with many of them. On the day that I stopped by, Linda had purchased flowers for someone who had recently lost a family member. "We've also celebrated marriages and babies, " Linda proudly shared. Clearly more than just a coffee shop - Java Girl is a community. And a community is really what Linda set out to create. "I didn't have a business plan, I just had this idea... and it worked. "
Lovely classical music plays in the background of The Juilliard Store, home to official apparel, recordings, and books on all things drama, dance, and music. A children’s section is dedicated to recognizing the potential of young artists with baby bibs reading “little soprano” or “little tenor. ” The fun and whimsy continues with bags of music note-shaped pasta surrounded by an array of notebooks and coffee mugs. However, the gift shop is most recognized as being one of largest brick and mortar sheet music stores in the world. It is frequented by tourists, music-appreciators, and, of course, students of the Juilliard School.
In 1895, Slovakian immigrants originally founded the St. John Church on East 4th Street to be both a community center and a place of worship. However, as its congregation continued to grow and move uptown, it made sense for the Roman Catholic church to do the same. Since 1925, the Church of St. John Nepomucene has taken residence on 66th Street.
A Roman Catholic parish dedicated in May of 1918, the Church of St. Vincent is considered to be one of the most spectacular architectural buildings in Manhattan. In 1867, the first Cardinal in America, John McCloskey, requested that the Dominican Fathers and Brothers find a home in Manhattan. Mass was held in a small building on East 66th Street in that same year. A few months later, work began on the Gothic church that was completed in 1879. In 1914, however, it was decided to construct a new building, which stands here today. Above the main entrance is a magnificent carving of a crucifixion scene by Lee O. Lawrie. Guastivino acoustic tiling allows the preacher’s voice to project, and each glass window was placed opposite one of complementary colors so as to be highlighted fully in the sunlight. In August of 2015, the Parish of St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena was established, forming a connection between this church and the Church of St. Catherine of Siena on East 68th Street.