New York is a great study of architecture and architectural history. I think most of the time that my friends and I spent in New York sightseeing, we were carefully looking at all the different buildings and their various styles. One of my friends tried to walk into almost every building he saw an impressive ceiling in but was shooed out by doormen. (At other buildings, he didn't try to walk in but greeted the doormen in the lobby ways with a wave and a smile. One doorman was so excited that they ended up exchanging an air hug)
When we first started our walk:
Friend: What building is this?
<It was some sort of government building>
Friend: Why does it look like something the communists would have built?
The next building was truly impressive:
Friend: What building is this?
Me: <reading> Bankruptcy Building?
Me: Why is it so pretty and fancy?
Friend: I have no idea
Then we saw a statue:
Friend: <reading it> Henry Ward Beecher. Who is that?
Me: He was the father of Harriet Beecher Stowe. [Disclaimer: this is incorrect - he was actually her brother]
Friend: Well, what made him famous? Why was there a statue of him?
Friend: <reads the inscription> ...honor the great apostle of the brotherhood of man
Another Friend: So? What did he do?
Friend: He was a good man?
Don't we lead the best self-guided tours? :)
The church we stayed at was architecturally different. Every building around us was red brick but ours was white and blue brick. We lovingly dubbed it our "bathroom church" because the design of the bricks made it look like the tiles of a bathroom.
In fact, all of the churches were very interesting. We spent most of our time looking at churches but most of these were locked. Only one was open - St. Patrick's Cathedral - which we were excited to enter and look around and sit and appreciate the beautiful building. I prayed while the others chatted and then we all walked around to examine the relics.
But somehow, with all of the churches closed, I started examining the schedules for mass and services and would declare at every church, "Let's attend this church on Sunday!" Everyone would laugh at me since we had our own church to attend (short meeting) and then we had work to get to. But for some reason, I kept it up.
One of the days while we were getting on the bus, I realized that there was a church really close to the church we were staying at. "We should attend this church on Sunday!" I declared while everyone laughed and I looked eagerly around for the schedule of services only to find a sign that announced the church was, in fact, owned by a law firm.
Friend: I heard about this. Apparently, it's a 'thing' now to sell churches.
Another friend: But what can you do with a church when you buy it besides make it a church?
Third friend: Apparently, you can turn it into a law office.
Me: So interesting.
Later, we got on the subject of our own church architecture as we sat in the hall talking late into the night.
Friend: Why do we put burlap on the walls of our churches?
Another friend: It protects the wall from scratches and dents and grubby hands of children?
Friend: Yeah, but it also scratches those children up if they were ever to run into it.
Me: Yeah, it could serve as a great scratching post for cats.
Third friend: Well, just think. If we ever have to sell our church, let's sell it to someone with cats.
But my favorite building that we happened to see and walk into?
Grand Central Station. It was stunning. We all marched in and then stopped in awe to look around - even those of us who had been to this place several times before. In one word: magical.