There was a recent article in the NY Times which discussed the deteriorating relationship between the Occupy Wall Street movement and Trinity Church, highlighting the demonstrators’ anger at being prevented from camping on Trinity property.
Trinity Church is one of New York’s largest land holders, stemming originally from a substantial farmland grant — some 215 acres — from Queen Anne in 1705. That’s one great gift, made a full lifetime (or back then, a couple of lifetimes) before the Declaration of Independence.*
At the time, much of this farmland was north of the city center (i.e. north of today’s financial district), and included plots such as the area between West Broadway, Murray, Barclay, and Church Streets in lower Manhattan (one block west of today’s City Hall) which Trinity granted to King’s College. This is the college that Alexander Hamilton attended after Princeton spurned his request for accelerated study in order to graduate as fast as possible, and the same one that became today’s Columbia University (it smartly changed its named in 1784 — post the American Revolution, it wasn’t the best thing to be associated with the crown), and much later relocated uptown.
But back to Trinity Church and its properties. Over the centuries, it gave away most of its land, but Trinity Real Estate still owns 8 acres with 6 million square feet of office space in the Hudson Square Area, making it one of New York’s largest real estate owners. Here are its 15 properties (74 Trinity Place is downtown so not shown):
If you’re walking through this neighborhood, keep your eyes peeled for plaques near the front entrances of these buildings which highlight that they’re Trinity’s property.
* Interestingly, Trinity Church had received its charter and an initial land grant in 1697 from King William III, Anne’s brother-in-law. This was William of “William & Mary” fame (Mary being Anne’s sister) who together overthrew King James — Mary’s dad! — to take the throne of England in 1688. As William and Mary had no kids, Anne succeeded them.