The two stone churches near the foot of Broadway, in the shadow of the World Trade Center, have seen fire and calamity and the sweep of American history, and through it all have kept their doors wide open.
But in a sign of the times, Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel both installed metal detectors this month. Visitors on their way to see Alexander Hamilton’s tomb in Trinity’s historic graveyard, or who want to sit in the pews at St. Paul’s where George Washington prayed and dust-covered rescue workers rested after 9/11 attacks, now have to pass through airport-style security checkpoints.The metal detectors, installed March 1, will be there “until this world becomes a safer place,” said Trinity’s vicar, the Rev. Phillip Jackson.
Visitors to St. Paul’s passed through them Palm Sunday as they gathered to mark the start of Holy Week, which commemorates the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.
Church officials said the decision to step up security was not a response to any specific threat, but Jackson said a terrorist attack in the fall, when a man used a speeding truck to kill eight people on a nearby bike path, was “kind of a wake-up call.”