Fri-Sun, October 25-27, 2019
EAST VILLAGE, NYC ~ Day of the Dead altar building, Mexican Marketplace, live music and Indigenous Aztec ceremony at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-bowery
This old New York Episcopal church (1799) on Stuyvesant’s farm is an arts center for the East Village community
St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery is a vestige of New Amsterdam, the Dutch commercial settlement in what is now the Financial District that grew into New York City.
The Church is New York City’s oldest place of worship that has been in continual use.
“Bowery” is from the Dutch “bouwerie” or leafy woods. So it was St. Mark’s Church “in the woods.” Bowery, which becomes Third Avenue, was the old Indigenous trail to Connecticut. It later became a place where homeless people lived. That’s why streets across the United States where homeless gather are called “The Bowery” today.
Peter Stuyvesant (1592-1672), the last director of Dutch New Amsterdam (1621-1664), had a farm here. Stuyvesant St which runs from Third Ave to the Church was the entrance to his farm.
The short diagonal street was left in the Manhattan street grid out of respect for the old man. The only other diagonal in the grid is Broadway, the old Indigenous trail up the Hudson River to Albany.
Stuyvesant had a family chapel where the Church is now. His great-grandson sold it to the Episcopal Church in 1793 so a proper church could be built to serve the growing community.
The new Church was built and consecrated in 1799. Alexander Hamilton helped prepare the legal paperwork to separate it from Trinity Church. The tall church steeple was added in 1828. A cast and wrought iron fence was added in 1838. It’s still there.
The Episcopal Church was originally one of the English churches. Today it’s very cool. Episcopal churches in New York City are simple places of worship. It doesn’t matter who are how you worship. These are true sanctuaries.
St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery has developed into a community arts center. Renowned Lebanese-American poet Kahlil Gibran, author of The Prophet, one of the best-selling books of all time, was once on the arts committee. Dance legends Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham danced here. Playwright Sam Shepard produced his first two plays here. Renowned punk poet Patti Smith began her career here. She is still around. You may run into her downtown.
The Church’s current arts partners are Danspace, Poetry Project, New York Theatre Ballet and LocoMotion.
St. Mark’s Church is just about everything you could wish a church to be. It’s a historic place, a serious house of worship that welcomes everyone, and a true center of the community it serves.
May 6-14 & 19, 2019 | International literary festival | The world’s writers and thinkers gather in New York City to talk and read and perform
St. Mark’s Church
131 East 10th St
at Second Ave
East Village, Manhattan
Friday – Sunday
October 27 – 29, 2017