Said to have been built with the pennies of poor Irish immigrants, the magnificent neo-gothic structure of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral seems to divide Fifth Avenue in two and was then – and is still now – a mission statement of the Irish presence in the Big Apple. It’s also a terrific example of Gotham architecture, drawing in thousands of visitors every day.
The land on which the present cathedral sits was originally purchased for $11,000 on March 6, 1810, as a site for a school for young Roman Catholic men, the New York Literary Institution, to be conducted by the Jesuits. The cathedral was completed in 1878 and dedicated on May 25, 1879.
8. Old Saint Patrick's Cathedral
Construction on Old Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in lower Manhattan began in 1809 and by 1844 Archbishop John Hughes (known as Dagger John for his habit of inscribing a cross before his signature) had to call upon the Ancient Order of Hibernian’s to guard it against anti-Catholic bigots who threatened to burn it down.
In 1966, St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral was one of the first sites to be named a New York City landmark by the New York City Landmarks Commission. It remains a vital and historical part of the tale of the Irish in New York.
9. Tammany Hall
The site of the New York Film Academy in Union Square is the seat of the famous – and often infamous – Tammany Hall. At one time it was the heart of the Democratic political in the city that played a major role in controlling New York City politics and helping immigrants (most notably the Irish) rise up in American politics from the 1790’s to the 1960’s.
10. McSorely’s Old Ale House
McSorley's legendary Irish bar first opened its doors in 1854 and women were not allowed in until 1970 when the National Organization for Women attorneys took their case to District Court and won. A new age was born, albeit kicking and screaming.
Famous people have drunk at McSorley’s, including Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Boos Tweed and literary figures like Brendan Behan and Leroi Jones. Go to soak up the atmosphere, the sawdust floors, the homemade beer and centuries of Irish history.