An Episcopal church has occupied the corner of Wall Street and Broadway since 1696. The current structure is the third church built on the site. The first was lost to a fire, and the second was weakened by heavy snow. From the time it was completed in 1846 until 1890, the church spires were the tallest point in the city. Ships entering New York Harbor used the lights within the tower as a beacon. The building was designed by Richard Upjohn in the Gothic Revival style. According to its charter, the parish church would pay rent of one peppercorn per year. When Queen Elizabeth II visited the church in 1976, the parish paid a symbolic overdue rent of 279 peppercorns. That same year, the building was designated a National Historic Landmark.
The bell tower contains the nation’s first 12-bell change-ringing peal. In total, there are 23 bells contained within the tower. Due to the close proximity of residential structures, the church uses plywood coverings and shutters to diminish the sound of the chiming bells. These precautions are removed for important public displays.
Many famous Americans are buried in the church’s three cemeteries. These include patriot Alexander Hamilton, printer William Bradford, naturalist John James Audubon and naval hero Captain James Lawrence. One of these cemeteries is the only active cemetery in Manhattan.