Top 7 New York Catacombs

8 mins read
New York Catacombs
By: Eddtoro on Shutterstock

Are you familiar with catacombs? A catacomb is “a subterranean cemetery of corridors with recesses for burials — generally used in the plural,” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary (Catacomb).

Because the catacomb tunnels are connected in a way that resembles a maze, the word “catacomb” is sometimes used in the plural. Although catacombs are described by Merriam-Webster as having spaces for graves, they can also be an underground pathway.

All over the world, including in New York, London, Paris, Rome, Alexandria (Egypt), Palermo (Italy), Malta (Italy), Vienna (Austria), and Brno, catacombs can be found (Czech Republic). European cities like Paris, Rome, and London are particularly well-known (Lovejoy).

Many people are ignorant of the catacombs beneath well-known cities, but even fewer are aware of their history or contemporary uses. Catacombs were constructed between the second century AD and 1837, and they fulfilled a variety of functions.

In this article, we will talk about the New York catacombs.

New York Catacombs’ History

The early history of Catholics in New York is intertwined with the history of the catacombs and the church that stands over them. One of the few catacombs in the United States is located beneath the former St. Patrick’s Cathedral. This is one of the most famous New York catacombs.

Despite frequently overshadowed by its bigger and fancier successor church uptown, the Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral is nonetheless a significant historical site. Here, Bishop John Hughes, often known as “Dagger John” for his sass and street fighting prowess, used a show of force by his armed parishioners to defend the Catholic neighborhood from a Protestant lynch mob. Newly arrived immigrants would seek safety at the Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral, first the Irish and afterward the Italians, Hispanics, and Asians.

As their presence increased, many Catholics in New York City achieved success in business, politics, and cultural impact. Later, these new Catholic aristocrats would be interred in the crypts and columbaria within the catacombs.

The Delmonico family, who started the oldest still-operating restaurant in New York, Congressman John Kelly, a Civil War veteran and major proponent of the telegraph industry, General Thomas Eckert, a Civil War veteran and major proponent of the telegraph industry, and socialite and philanthropist Countess Annie Leary are notable residents of the catacombs.

Fine examples of 19th-century invention and art can be seen in the catacombs. The Eckert family vault has original Thomas Edison lighting fixtures. Rafael Guastavino, a renowned engineer and builder who also tiled New York icons like the City Hall station, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and Ellis Island, also contributed tilework to the Eckert family crypt.

Catacombs Tour

For more nearly 200 years, only clergy, employees, and the entombed’s relatives were permitted to visit the catacombs. However, the basilica decided to let anyone visit the New York catacombs in February 2017. Now that the candlelight group tour is available, people may explore the catacombs’ gloomy corridors while learning more about Catholic New York’s lengthy history.

Tommy’s New York has an exclusive agreement to offer candlelight tours. A reservation can be made by going to their website. Masses and other ceremonies may be performed while you are on a tour of Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral because it is still a functioning catholic church. The catacombs continue to serve as a place of rest for the deceased. You can still see memorial services, funerals, and people paying their respects.

Candlelight tour

You can book the candlelight tours through websites such as Tripadvisor or The Catacombs tour by Candlelight. Every tour includes a tour guide, and the rest of the facilities depend upon the package they offer and what you choose. They also provide booking for wheelchair-accessible children and Manhattan guests requiring wheelchairs. They have a fantastic tour guide who will make it an interesting tour.

New York City: Catacombs by Candlelight

The catacombs of the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral have served as the faithful departee’s final resting place for more than 200 years. This historical location has been the scene of numerous struggles and triumphs of important New York Catholics.

Gain entry to two walled cemeteries and other off-limits locations. Discover New York City’s only functioning Catholic Catacombs.

See where famous New York Catholics, including the Delmonico Family and Bishop John Connolly, the first resident bishop of New York, lay beside bishops. Most people with access to this maze of vaults are bankers, attorneys, business leaders, traders, politicians, and even Thomas Eckert, a general from the American Civil War.

The Basilica of Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral (or Old St. Patrick’s)

Head to Nolita’s St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral for a one-of-a-kind tour of its historic catacombs, an experience that every local (and tourist) should try. After nearly six months of closure, tours are finally back in operation, allowing you to discover the most thrilling secrets hidden beneath NYC’s streets!

This underground space was previously closed to the public, but brave enough people can now explore it by candlelight. The Basilica of St Patrick’s (or Old St. Patrick’s), located at 260-264 Mulberry Street in Nolita between Prince and Houston Streets, is just over 200 years old and has seen a lot.

If you haven’t been inside, you should go because it’s a stunning church that recently underwent a $15 million restoration, including the classic Henry Erben Organ. Walking through the cold crypts by candlelight, as they would have done in 1815, will be the most enlightening and chilling part of your time exploring the building.

On this tour, you’ll spend 90 minutes beneath a New York City landmark, taking a walk through the city’s history that was previously closed off and forgotten. This one-of-a-kind New York Catacombs by Candlelight experience sheds light on the final resting places, walled cemeteries of notable New Yorkers, and the accomplishments and challenges faced by historic Catholic residents of New York.

Of course, there are many COVID-19 safety measures in place in all New YorkmCatacombs, such as face masks required for all visitors over the age of two for the duration of the visit; a maximum capacity of 15 people per tour; reservations of dates and times; physical distancing markers; and hand sanitizer stations and social distancing is practiced. So while visiting, make sure to follow these safety measures.

Final Resting Place

For over 200 years, the grounds of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral Basilica have served as the final resting place for the faithful departed. The historic cemetery and underground catacombs of the Basilica have stood silent witness to the many struggles and achievements of prominent New York Catholics. It is where bishops are laid to rest alongside notable New Yorkers who have played significant roles in New York, American, and Catholic history. This practice was halted due to a lack of space.

The Basilica proudly revived the tradition of interring the deceased on the property in September 2012. We now offer you the one-of-a-kind and limited opportunity to reserve an eternal resting place in Manhattan’s only Catholic cemetery.

Top 7 best New York Catacombs

1. Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral

The inside of the Cathedral is stunning. It was designed by Joseph François Mangin and constructed in the 1800s. The details can be seen in the structure/building itself.

The pillars and glass panes are exquisitely designed. I like how the ceiling curves and comes to a point, giving it this concave shape. The cathedral is enormous. They teach you a lot about the church’s history and why the New York catacombs exist in the first place.

2. St. Patrick’s Cathedral

In Manhattan, a four-block-long, gorgeous, enormous cathedral is impossible to miss. It is visible from most locations. It also serves as the Archbishop of New York’s official residence. Pope Francis even visited this church.

Additionally, it recently had a $170 million refurbishment. The architecture, the beautiful ceiling, monuments to saints and their story. Even the Bibles are kept in pristine condition. You can’t help but sit and pray. Alternately, take in the peace amidst thousands of tourists.

Additionally, you may get a prayer card sans the date for, I believe, $15. It was about $75 at the time. Additionally, you can buy items from the gift store and have the priest bless them through the parish office.

3. Tommy’s New York

Tommy’s New York is a provider of unique, upscale experiences and walking tours in New York City. The Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral’s New York Catacombs by Candlelight Tour has been hailed as one of New York City’s newest, most notable historic attractions.

Entrepreneur Thomas P. Wilkinson founded Tommy’s New York after giving up a nearly 30-year career in high-end architectural metalwork. Tommy’s New York is the “New Kid on the Block.” Third-generation New Yorker Tommy is here to share his expertise and experiences of the Big Apple with you. Tommy truly helped construct this city with his own hands.

Tommy’s New York recently agreed to become the church’s sole tour partner and tour operator under a proprietary arrangement. Tommy’s New York now has access to the restricted, banned, and secret regions of the Shrine Church of the Most Precious Blood.

In addition, Tommy’s New York has complete access to the community shop owners & proprietors of Old Little Italy, who are uniquely & exclusively available for the trips we are currently providing.

4. Green-wood Cemetery

The city is not far from Green-Wood Cemetery, which is quite simple to reach by vehicle or metro. The train station leaves you a couple of blocks away. There are three entrances, but I find that the main one is the quickest and most straightforward way in and out, depending on where you need to go.

Pay attention to where you may and cannot park because it might be harder to get parking through the main door during services. Both the outside and internal spaces are well kept.

There are two gender-neutral restrooms in the main building, one on either side of the entrance. Where services are held is in the main building… It was held in a public area by the crematory during the pandemic. Nice tranquility garden area with a sizable fish pond; quite relaxing to observe. The interior is attractive and well-kept, especially for mourners.

5. Strand Bookstore

The Strand is an independent bookshop unlike any other, whether you browse their carts of discounted books outdoors, go through their pricey gift area for the bibliophiles in your life, or get lost in their aisles. You will like the Strand if, like others like you, you find comfort in heaps, stacks, and rows of books. They appear to have abandoned their slogan, “18 miles of books.”

6. The Met Cloisters

This is one of the New York Catacombs where the 9th through 16th-century medieval art and architecture can be found in the Cloisters museum and gardens, along with the renowned “Hunt of the Unicorn” tapestry cycle and an unparalleled collection of medieval stained glass in the US.

It came to exist in 1938. As a division of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters museum and gardens debuted in 1938.

7. Penn Station

This is another one of the New York Catacombs where seven tunnels supply 21 tracks at Penn Station. It is situated in the middle of the Northeast Corridor, a passenger train route that links New York City with other cities like Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. Amtrak, which owns the station, runs intercity trains, while the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and NJ Transit run commuter rail services (NUT). The complex has connections to both the New York City Subway and buses. Additionally, Penn Station has the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) name.

All the New York Catacombs are beautiful and worth the time of visitors. Also, the professional tour guide knows everything about the New York catacombs and gives proper information. You will enjoy every bit of the tour from when it begins until it ends. So do visit once and don’t forget to follow the safety measures.

Suggested Read: Best Alabama Beaches

Fun Things to Do in NJ

Top 5 Alaska Tour and Travel Packages

Well, this is all on New York catacombs.


Verified Content by Experts

USA Tales has content written by niche experts, travelers, students, and those with real-life experience. Our content is also periodically reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure content accuracy and relevancy. Have a question? Email us at team@usatales.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Latest from Blog

Exclusive Guides & Discounts

Get how-to guides to shopping online, deals on things you love, & starting essentials to launch your business. Discounts when you use our content writing services. More details here.