02 August 2007

East 10th Street at Second Ave

St. Mark’s in the Bowery Church

"If you ever go wandering in the East Village, just following your fancy, you may come to the corner of E. 10th St. and 2nd Ave, and the apex of the diagonally-running street, Stuyvesant. You will have arrived, just outside St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery. It might be the first time. It might be that you have walked by dozens of times and never really looked it. Take notice, this time, because it is one of the most interesting pieces of New York living history and one of the most accessible for you to learn about and explore.

St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery, part of the Episcopal Diocese, was completed and consecrated in 1799. Its history is marked by a long tradition of dedication to this community. It is the cornerstone of an entire cultural way of life, with decades of service to a definitively diverse population of residents, and a steadfast commitment to the artistic and socially progressive ideals that are the roots of a genuinely East Village experience. The parish maintains an active congregation today, holds masses in Spanish, as well as English, and warmly welcomes the LGBT members of its spiritual family. It openly and truly represents and serves the neighborhood it sits in. In additional to being a functional church, it is a permanent home to a dance company, a theatre company, a long-running poetry organization and several artists-in-residence in any given season. This is an extraordinary spiritual, social and creative place. As if that wasn't enough reason to go there, one of its most delightful hidden treasures, is actually outside and is one of my absolute favorite secret spots in the city.

The small front churchyard is open to the public, but gated off from the street. You can enter from the public square area with benches, directly in front of the church doors or from a break in the gate on East 11th St. Once in there, notice that there are grave-markers - vaults in the grass and be respectful as you walk around them. If you move towards 2nd Avenue to right where the land slopes down to the street, that is the best place to sit. Find a peaceful spot under a tree and on a day with warm weather, there is a kind of calm and strangely haunted feeling of being somewhere hidden. You can watch passers-by on the other side of the fence, stare into space, meditate, read or chat with a friend here. I've been here in the middle of the day's hustle and bustle, at night when the revelers crowd the the streets, pouring out of the bars and in the wee small hours of the morning when a mellow stillness falls over even the noisiest corners of the city that never sleeps. Its a sacred spot." by Bonnie C. / Associated Content

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