Purchase of the property
The land on which the present cathedral sits was purchased in 1810.
Jesuit community built a college on the site,
 three miles north of the city. It contained a "fine old house," which was fitted with a chapel of St. Ignatius.
 The school closed in 1814 and the Jesuits sold the lot to the diocese. In 1813, the diocese gave use of the property to Dom
Augustin LeStrange, abbot of a community of
Trappists (from the original monastery of
La Trappe) who came to America fleeing persecution by French authorities. In addition to a small monastic community, they also looked after some thirty-three orphans. With the downfall of
Napoleon in that year, the Trappists returned to France in 1815, abandoning the property. The property at this point was designated for a future cemetery. The neighboring orphanage was maintained by the diocese into the late nineteenth century. Some of the Trappists resettled to Canada and eventually founded
St. Joseph's Abbey in
Bishop DuBois reopened the chapel in 1840 for Catholics employed at the Deaf and Dumb Asylum and in the general neighborhood.
 A modest frame church was built for the parish of
St. John the Evangelist and dedicated May 9, 1841 by the Rev.
John Hughes, administrator of the diocese. Tickets were sold to the dedication to ease the parish's debt level, managed by a lay Board of Trustees, but to no avail and the property mortgage was finally foreclosed on and the church sold at auction in 1844.
 The stress is said to have contributed to the death that year of the church's pastor, the Rev. Felix Larkin.
 The experience was blamed on the management of the trustees and this incident is said to have played a significant role in the abolishment of the lay trusteeship, which occurred shortly thereafter.
 The young and energetic Rev. Michael A. Curran was appointed to raise funds for the devastated parish, and shortly fitted up an old college hall as a temporary church.
 Fr. Curran continued raising funds to buy back the church during the
Great Famine in Ireland, eventually succeeding and taking the deed in his own name.
 "The site of St. Patrick's Cathedral, hence, came to the Church through the labors of this young priest and the self-denial of his countrymen and not by the gift of the city."
 The debt was finally all paid for by 1853 when it was clear a large church was needed and the site was selected as appropriate for the new cathedral.
Construction of the cathedral
Diocese of New York, created in 1808, was made an
Pope Pius IX on July 19, 1850. In 1853, Archbishop
John Joseph Hughes announced his intention to erect a new cathedral to replace the
Old Saint Patrick's Cathedral in
Lower Manhattan. The new cathedral was designed by
James Renwick Jr. in the
style. On August 15, 1858, the
cornerstone was laid, just south of the diocese's
orphanage. At that time, present-day midtown Manhattan was far north of the populous areas of New York City.
Work began in 1858 but was halted during the
Civil War and resumed in 1865. The cathedral was completed in 1878 and dedicated on May 25, 1879, its huge proportions dominating the midtown of that time. The archbishop's house and
rectory were added in 1880, both by James Renwick Jr., and an adjacent school (no longer in existence) opened in 1882.
 The spires were added in 1888, and at 329 feet and 6 inches (100.4 meters) were the tallest structures in New York City and the second highest in the United States.
 An addition on the east, including a
Lady chapel, designed by Charles T. Matthews, was constructed from 1901 to 1906.
 The Lady Chapel's
stained-glass windows were made between 1912 and 1930 by English stained glass artist and designer
Paul Vincent Woodroffe.
 In 1927 and 1931, the cathedral was renovated, which included enlarging the sanctuary and installing the great organ.
 The cathedral and associated buildings were declared a
National Historic Landmark in 1976.
An extensive restoration of the cathedral was begun in 2012 and lasted 3 years at a cost of $177 million.
 The restoration was completed by September 17, 2015, before Pope Francis visited the cathedral on September 24 and 25, 2015.
 The restoration cleaned the exterior marble, repaired stained glass windows, and painted the ceiling, among many restorations.
On October 13, 1914, a bomb exploded on the Northwest corner of St. Patrick's Cathedral. It caused a panic, but not severe damage, splintering some and tearing an 18-inch hole in the floor. Despite a full church that day, there was only one victim – a young boy – whose head was grazed by a flying piece of metal. Authorities believed this event was linked to another bombing earlier that day, downtown at St. Alphonsus Church on West Broadway.
 The Communists reportedly celebrated bombings at this and other churches, while police suspected an
Industrial Workers of the World plot.
 There were no arrests made that day.
In March 1915, Italian anarchists,
Frank Abarno, and
Carmine Carbone were arrested for attempting to detonate a bomb in the cathedral. Arbarno and Carbone were under the influence of
Luigi Galleani. Abarno was in St. Patrick's ready to light the bomb fuse when Amedeo Polignani, a New York City police detective, who had gone undercover the infiltrate the group, intervened. Polignani had been operating under the direction of the head of the bomb squad, Thomas Tunney. Arbano was arrested at the scene and Carbone was arrested at his home. The two defendants claimed entrapment, but were nonetheless convicted and given sentences of between 6 and 12 years.
In the 1950s, starting in January 1951, a letter threatened that a bomb would be set off at a Sunday mass, and there would be five more threats between December 1951 and July 1952. On July 12, a voice over the telephone warned "your beautiful cathedral will be blown up before midnight."