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Visitors who seek neighborhood experiences and authentic local activities flock to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, a Gothic Revival landmark that warmly welcomes groups, tour guides, and guest lecturers from across the United States and around the world.
Hundreds of thousands of people visit the Cathedral—the world's biggest—each year, exploring artwork by Keith Haring, 17th-century tapestries, a 9/11 memorial sculpture, stained-glass windows, gardens, and wandering peacocks. The Cathedral hosts daily services, tours, concerts, and choral performances, and is conveniently located between Manhattan's Upper West Side and Harlem neighborhoods, just minutes by subway from Times Square.
Make a day of visiting the Cathedral and its surrounding neighborhoods. Perfect for self-guided groups and individuals alike, our sample itineraries will help plan a day of exploration through an insiders’ lens.
Day on the Upper West Side
A visit to New York City isn’t complete without a trip to see the Manhattan’s Upper West Side, a beautiful and distinct New York City neighborhood. Visitors have the chance to experience life like a local, while visiting some of the city’s most inspiring landmarks.
Start your day at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine to admire the splendor of the world's largest cathedral. Get a rare commanding view of the neighborhood you are about to explore by going behind the Cathedral’s walls on an exclusive Vertical Tour. During this guided, adventurous climb, you will ascend one of the Cathedral’s buttresses to better understand the workmanship that created this fantastic structure, while standing face-to-face with stunning stained glass windows. After your tour, take a moment to admire the immensity and the quiet, peaceful atmosphere before heading back out to the bustling neighborhood.
Next, take a break for lunch and explore the shops, restaurants and cafes one block from the Cathedral on Broadway. You can get a sandwich at Milano Market on Broadway or some delicious Indian from Roti Roll at 109th and Amsterdam and bring it back to the Cathedral to have a picnic on our park-like grounds. Alternately, you can enjoy a cup of coffee and a pastry at the famous Hungarian Pastry Shop across the street. There are also a number of delicious sit-down restaurants to enjoy within a few walking blocks of the Cathedral.
After some refreshments, meander through the northern half of the world famous Central Park, where visitors can truly experience the hush of nature in our busy city. Just under 1.5 miles between 110th and 80th Streets, the walk is a relaxing way to experience the quieter side of one of New York City’s great landmarks.
Finally, head downtown to end your day at one of the museums on the Upper West Side. You can visit with the whales and dinosaurs at the American Museum of Natural History, or gain a deeper understanding of our city’s history by visiting the New York Historical Society, both of which sit on the edge of Central Park between 81st and 76th Streets.
A Harlem Afternoon
Harlem, one of the NYC's most vibrant neighborhoods and a world capital of African-American history and culture, is not to be missed. A walk through Harlem gives visitors the chance to experience life like a local.
Start your day at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, an arts and cultural landmark that is conveniently located at the foot of Harlem. The Cathedral is home to a piano by Duke Ellington, honors poet greats James Baldwin and Zora Neale Hurston in its American Poets Corner, and recognizes Martin Luther King, Jr. as a civil rights champion through a statue on the historic parapet. Tour the world's largest cathedral to learn more about its architecture or its role in New York City’s past, present, and future.
Following your visit to the Cathedral, walk up through Morningside Park to find yourself in the heart of Harlem. Enjoy a local meal at the famed Red Rooster on Lenox Avenue for food that celebrates the roots of American cuisine and Harlem’s diverse culinary traditions, or at Sylvia’s on 125th Street for unforgettable soul food. Then spend the rest of your afternoon exploring Harlem’s cultural sites like the Apollo Theater or The Studio Museum.
Does your company visit the Cathedral more than 3 times a year?
The Cathedral offers competitive rates to frequent sightseeing companies. Please contact the Public Education and Visitor Services Department at (212) 932-7347 to find out more.
Choirs make the historic relationship between music and cathedrals relevant and alive by performing in this symphony of stone and glass. Informal performances are held inside the Cathedral and resound amid its magnificent architecture, providing participants an opportunity to sing in a unique setting and in front of international audiences. You may also inquire about setting up an organ demonstration and tours to supplement your performance.
A comprehensive guide to Choir Sing opportunities is available for download here.
For more information and to make reservations, please contact the Public Education Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or (212) 932-7347.