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The Tallest Building in New York City

Did you know Trinity Church used to be the tallest building in New York City? When construction was completed in 1846, the steeple reached 281 feet, making it one of the most recognizable features of the skyline and a welcome sight for those sailing into New York Harbor.

The height also allowed for an unparalleled view of the city, water, and sky. The steeple served as a makeshift observatory for the New York Times coverage of an 1853 comet, providing a clear view of the night sky for their “corps of astronomical reporters.”

Today, Trinity is dwarfed by Manhattan’s skyscrapers, but in 1846 Trinity was not only the tallest building in New York, but the tallest building in the United States. This title was held for 23 years before being surpassed by Saint Michael’s Church in Chicago. Trinity continued to dominate the New York City skyline until 1890, when the New York World Building reached 348 feet.