Tuesday, April 4, 2023


Harlem Bespoke: An original article on the blog from over a decade ago takes a look at one of the hidden architectural clues of Harlem's forgotten Jewish past.  We probably covered most of the major former temples to be found uptown over the years but some time has since past and many of the new readers might not be familiar with the local lore. The Moorish curves of the Baptist Church on 118th Street between Malcolm X/Lenox and 5th Avenue had us wondering what type of religious services one might have found inside during the early 1900's. Turns out that No. 23-25 West 118th Street, in the upper photo, shows the original Star of David on the cupolas at the top. An offshoot of a downtown synagogue, Congregation Shaare Zedek (Gates of Righteousness) took root here in 1900. While this is a sign of the strong Jewish presence in the early years of Harlem, the stars did not last too long -- since the uptown and downtown Shaare Zedek reunited on the Upper West Side, and the Canaan Baptist Church took over this space during World War One. Now, the Bethel Way of the Cross Church of Christ holds sway inside the grand, century-old institution. The apartment buildings on either side are still there, but the block across the street is a more recent elementary school construction. Take the 2,3 train to 116th Street to see the building as it currently stands. Archival image courtesy NYPL digital collection: LINK

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