Although this French Gothic cathedral, the third-largest Episcopal cathedral in the nation, appears to be made of stone, it is in fact constructed of reinforced concrete beaten to achieve a stone-like effect. Construction began on the site of railroad magnate Charles Crocker’s ruined mansion in 1927, but work was stalled during the Great Depression and not completed until 1964. Grace Cathedral offers a veritable feast for the eyes; its iconic faceted rose window is only one of 68 stained glass windows, which include such unexpected subjects as Albert Einstein and John Glenn. Adults and children alike will enjoy walking the cathedral’s labyrinths; there is one outside and a larger one just inside the cathedral. If you want to dive in and learn more about Grace, take the Grace Cathedral Grand Tour (90 min.; $25) or take a shorter, free, docent-led tour. There’s also a free cellphone app, GraceGuide.
Where Grace really stands out is in the compassion of its congregation, in no finer display than in the Interfaith AIDS Memorial Chapel that’s located to the right as you enter. Two weeks before his own death from the disease in 1990, pop artist Keith Haring completed a triptych altarpiece called The Life of Christ. The final 600-pound work in bronze and white gold patina sits in the chapel’s place of honor.
Along with its unique ambience, Grace lifts spirits with services, musical performances (including organ recitals and evensong, or evening prayer, Thursdays and Sundays). It’s a lovely place to pray, meditate, or simply look at the beautiful building, and its doors are open every day to everyone.