The Cathedral: 2nd Phase

Rose Window

In 1907, Heins, of Heins & Lafarge, passed away. The firm was released from the contract. A new firm was selected. A rising Boston architect, Ralph Adams Cram, was chosen to complete the Cathedral.

Unlike Heins & Lafarge, Cram was a Gothic architect. He had to use what had previously been built, but he began to implement a Gothic style. In order to achieve his Gothic design, the length of the nave was changed from 520 to 601 feet. Ground was broken for the Nave in 1916 and the entire foundation laid.

The press gave immense impetus to the drive for funds. The "Communications Bay" in the Nave is a well-deserved tribute to the media which has done much toward the building of the Cathedral. Few questioned the validity of the undertaking. A model for the completed Cathedral stood in the north balcony of Grand Central station in 1921, a symbol of civic pride. Although World War I and the Great Depression occupied much of people's time, the Cathedral's construction continued.

By 1918, the seven Chapels of the Tongues, around the Choir and High Altar were completed. Each chapel is dedicated to a different immigrant group. Images and descriptions of all seven chapels are available from the Chapels page.

The Nave was virtually completed in less than ten years. Bishop William Thomas Manning, Episcopal Bishop from 1921-1946 oversaw the construction of the Nave, the West Front, the Baptistry, and part of the North Transept.

On Sunday November 30,1941, the opening of the full length of the Cathedral was celebrated. The public could now see the full interior -- the greatest indoor length (601 feet) of any cathedral in existence. "Two football fields, end to end, with room left for the football," became the popular imagery of this magnificent length of uninterrupted space.

Alas, the joy was short lived. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor occurred the very next week, December 7th, 1941.

Construction Stops

With the onset of World War II, construction of the Cathedral screeched to a halt. The Pearl Harbor Arch, as it is called, shows incomplete masonry where a stonecarver did not return to his work.

For 32 years, all plans for completing the Cathedral were held in abeyance.

Based on information from the Cathedral's Web Page