On November 30, 1941—76 years ago today—a celebration kicked off at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Morningside Heights to mark the completion of its massive nave.
As we write in Inside the Apple:
The cornerstone for the cathedral was laid on December 27, 1892—the feast of St. John the Divine—but work proceeded slowly. The sheer size of the project was daunting, and despite the rocky nature of the heights, it took workers a full two years—and 72 feet—before hitting solid bedrock. Once construction began, the architects’ grandiose plans were difficult to execute, in particular...[the] apse, which called for the world’s largest granite columns.
In 1907, before even the apse and choir were finished, [chief architect] George Heins died, which freed the cathedral from their contract with [his] firm. Once the apse was completed in 1911, the cathedral...hired Gothic aficionado Ralph Adams Cram to finish the church. Cram promised he could build the church faster and bigger.... Cram’s work began at the crossing in 1916 and over the next twenty-five years his team completed the massive nave. On November 30, 1941, the church kicked off an eight-day festival to celebrate the nave’s completion. On the final day of the festivities, December 7, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and, for all intents, work on the cathedral stopped.Though some additional construction work on the cathedral has taken place in the intervening decades, most of the development on cathedral property today involves apartment buildings.
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