and one of the last places where New York City residents said they were feeling secure. Media reports said scores of fire fighters rushed to the historic Cathedral of St. John the Divine, which has been under construction for more than a century.
The first stone was laid in 1892, but construction has never been completed, and work continues to this day.
Eyewitnesses said the fire began in the gift shop of the church and that black smoke was seen billowing high from the cathedral.
It was not yet clear what caused the fire in a city well aware of terrorism since the september 11 attacks against the united states, which lead to the total collapse of new yorks’ world trade center.
"We were just crying all the way down here," the Associated Press (AP) News agency quoted Margaret Hurwitz as saying, whose son, Nicholas, 12, goes to the nearby Cathedral school.
"You know, after the world trade towers, you want something to be secure," said Hurwitz. "this is where we came that day."
Thousands of people visit the cathedral every day, and a half million a year, Cathedral spokesman Jere Farrah told AP.