On Riverside Drive overlooking the River Hudson is a great twentieth-century Gothic church of surprising proportions, the Baptist Riverside Church, largely financed by John D Rockefeller Jnr, and opened in 1929 to the designs of Allen, Pelten & Collens.
Especially when seen from the river, the huge tower, 392 feet high, dominates the church, which is itself a hundred feet high and 215 feet long.
The tower is in fact a 22-storey office building for the church administration, surmounted by a 72-bell carillon which – until 9/11 – visitors could inspect on their way to view the panorama from the top of the tower, from where the skyscrapers of Lower Manhattan dot the horizon.
Riverside Church is proud of its stained glass and sculpture. It has two Epsteins, the bronze ‘Madonna and Child’ (1927) and the gilded mould of the cast ‘Christ in Majesty’ at Llandaff Cathedral, Wales.
From the outset of its ministry, started by Rev Harry Emerson Fosdick (1878–1969), Riverside Church has been a springboard for all kinds of social intervention, and has provided a pulpit for a dazzling array of speakers, from Martin Luther King to Nelson Mandela, Jesse Jackson to Desmond Tutu, and Fidel Castro to Bill Clinton.
For details of Mike Higginbottom’s lecture The Big Apple: the architecture of New York City, please click here.
For details of Mike Higginbottom’s lecture Survivals & Revivals: past views of English architecture, please click here.