NEW YORK - Riverside Church Welcome Center Manager Raymond Rodriguez knows pretty much everything there is to know about the historic 90-year-old interdenominational house of worship. He has worked there for 28 years and gives tours spotlighting its architecture, art and history.
"At the time, the 365 foot elevator shaft was actually the tallest in the world," Rodriguez said.
At 20 tons, the Bourdon Bell is the largest tuned bell in the world inside the church's 392 foot tall bell tower, which is open for public tours for the first time in nearly two decades.
Rodriguez says church leaders stopped them after the September 11th attacks, but they aren't totally sure why.
"All throughout the archives, we haven't found a document that says why they closed it," Rodriguez said.
Tours started again last month. The trip includes an elevator ride and then 145 steps. Along the way you can see the church's carillon, made up of 74 bronze bells.
And even on a foggy day, the views are incredible 64 stories up.
Rodriguez says this will bring more folks to know the mission of Riverside, welcoming people from all walks of life, social services, advocacy and social justice. For Rodriguez, it's fun to bring people back up into the tower again.
"I'm elated to actually contribute now to the opening of the tower and giving tours. I'm blessed," Rodriguez said.
Bell tower tours are given Wednesday through Saturday at 1 p.m. To find out more, visir trcnyc.org.