Riverside Church

490 Riverside Drive (at 120th street)
New York, New York 10027
TheRiversideChurchNY.org

This church was built for modernist Baptist pastor Harry Emerson Fosdick by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (1874-1960), a noted philanthropist and the only male heir of robber baron John D. Rockefeller, Sr. (1839–1937). Construction began in 1926 and the first service was held on October 5, 1930. The building was designed by Henry C. Pelton and Charles Collens (of the firm Allen, Pelton and Collens) based on the nave of the 13th Century Gothic Cathedral of Chartres, France. The church is perhaps most notable for its 392-foot bell tower. Despite its appearance as being constructed entirely of masonry, it is actually a steel-frame structure with decorative limestone buttressing.

In keeping with the views of its founding minister, the congregation is known for its progressive Christian theology and dedication to social justice.

Union Theological Seminary sits just across Clairmont Avenue from the church in a building that opened in 1910. Following construction of the church, Rockefeller built McGiffert Hall as a residence for seminary students on the northeast corner of the block next to the Riverside Church nave. The placement of McGiffert Hall was an exchange with the seminary for land they owned on the southern part of the church block that Rockefeller wanted for future expansion of the church. The South Wing containing offices, classrooms, a parking garage and other social facilities was dedicated on December 6, 1959.

Sitting just to the south of the South Wing across 120th Street is the Interchurch Center another religious building funded largely by Rockefeller that holds offices for a number of denominational groups and is intended to foster interdenominational communication and unity. The building opened on May 29, 1960.

Tower viewed from the southeast
2/13/2005 09:36 AM
Tower viewed from the southeast
Tower viewed from the southeast
2/13/2005 09:37 AM
Tower viewed from the southeast
East side of the church
2/13/2005 09:37 AM
East side of the church
Tower viewed from the base
2/13/2005 12:54 PM
Tower viewed from the base
Tower under renovation (at sunset)
1/16/2008 04:30 PM
Tower under renovation (at sunset)
West entrance sign
1/16/2008 04:32 PM
West entrance sign
North side of nave under renovation
1/16/2008 04:33 PM
North side of nave under renovation
North side of nave under renovation
1/16/2008 04:34 PM
North side of nave under renovation
North side of McGiffert Hall
1/16/2008 04:34 PM
North side of McGiffert Hall
McGiffert Hall entrance
1/16/2008 04:35 PM
McGiffert Hall entrance
McGiffert Hall sign
1/16/2008 04:35 PM
McGiffert Hall sign
East church entrance
1/16/2008 04:36 PM
East church entrance
Madonna and Child statue (Jacob Epstein, 1927)
1/16/2008 04:36 PM
Madonna and Child statue (Jacob Epstein, 1927)
The Interchurch Center
1/30/2008 03:23 PM
The Interchurch Center
The south wing
1/30/2008 03:24 PM
The south wing
The tower and south wing viewed from the southwest
1/30/2008 03:24 PM
The tower and south wing viewed from the southwest
The tower under renovation
1/30/2008 03:25 PM
The tower under renovation
West side of the church under renovation
1/30/2008 03:25 PM
West side of the church under renovation
West side of the nave under renovation
1/30/2008 03:26 PM
West side of the nave under renovation
Bell tower under renovation
1/30/2008 03:26 PM
Bell tower under renovation
West side of the nave under renovation
1/30/2008 03:26 PM
West side of the nave under renovation
Church viewed from the Westside Highway
2/19/2008 01:04 PM
Church viewed from the Westside Highway
Church viewed from Riverside Park
2/19/2008 01:04 PM
Church viewed from Riverside Park
Tower viewed from Riverside Park
1/30/2008 03:21 PM
Tower viewed from Riverside Park
Train tracks emerge from tunnel to the northwest of Riverside Church
2/19/2008 01:08 PM
Train tracks emerge from tunnel to the northwest of Riverside Church