First Church has been a landmark both architecturally and intellectually since its origins on Wall Street in 1716. “Old First” has a rich tradition of being at the forefront of religious and social activism, often with controversy.
As the “Church of the Patriots,” the pulpits and pews of First Church have been filled with passionate voices that have paralleled the nation’s growth. To keep pace with that growth, a decision was made in the 1840s to move uptown to its present location on Fifth Avenue and 12th Street. The present Gothic revival building, dedicated in 1846, proved to be an enduring home for First church’s remarkable growth during the twentieth century. The merger in 1918 of First Presbyterian, University Place Presbyterian, and Madison Square Presbyterian provided a pulpit for Harry Emerson Fosdick, one of the nation’s best known liberal preachers. First Church’s reputation for progressive thought and action has continued to the present.