St Nicholas of Manhattan

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Among the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001 collapse of the World Trade Center skyscrapers is one that is little talked about, despite being the oldest in the area, dating back to about 1830. Just south of the Twin Towers, separated from the complex by Liberty Street, stood the Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Nicholas which was crushed by the collapse of the South Tower when no one was inside.

In 1916 a group of Greek Orthodox from New York founded the congregation of the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in the southern tip of Manhattan; at first the faithful gathered for worship in a hotel restaurant on Morris Street, until in 1919 five families raised $25,000 with which they bought a tavern at 155 Cedar Street to convert it into a church. The four-story building was built in the 1800s as a residential apartment building.

The new church began to function as a place of worship in 1922 and at first was located between two other residential buildings, then when the neighborhood was demolished to make room for the World Trade Center, the church found itself to be an independent building with the entrance pedestrian on the north side, the one facing the towers, and parking on the other three sides. Since its foundation, the community of Saint Nicholas has been an old-calendarist and only since 1993 has it adopted the Gregorian calendar.

The church was only 6.7 meters long, 17, 11 high and inside were kept relics, small bone fragments, of San Nicola di Bari, Santa Caterina d’Alessandria and San Saba Archimandrite which had been donated to the community by the last Tsar Nicholas II and which obviously went missing in the collapse of the towers. Because of the presence in this church of a fragment of the body of St Nicholas, the saint was known as St. Nicholas of Myra (where some say his bones still lie), Bari (where the bones pilfered by Norman pirates in the 11th century lie), and Manhattan.

After 9/11, Saint Nicholas parishioners joined the community of Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Brooklyn where they remained for more than twenty years until July 2022, when the new Saint Nicholas, built beginning in 2014, it was consecrated and inaugurated on the southern side of the same block that housed the previous building. The new church was designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and, due to the four towers at the top, is inspired by Hagia Sophia and the Church of Our Saviour in Chora, both in Istanbul.

The new Saint Nicholas Church opened in 2022

Most of the information in this post was found on this website (in Italian) devoted to 9/11:

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