Thursday, December 8, 2011

Map: Churches of the Lower East Side, 1877

Click for larger map
By the turn of the twentieth century, the abundance of houses of worship on the Lower East Side rivaled any district on the planet. The map above highlights the neighborhood's churches by 1877 (synagogues will be explored in a future post). Many more churches and chapels were erected in the following three decades as Catholic Italians, Orthodox Ukrainians and others began immigrating in large numbers.

Old St. Patrick's today
Remarkably, except for St. Nicholas (No. 29) which was demolished in the 1960s and St. Ann's (26), recently remodeled into a dormitory, all of the Roman Catholic churches still exist one-hundred and fifty years later. St. Stanislaus (31) is technically still active, though the congregation moved to East Seventh Street in 1900. Church of the Nativity (24) is still active, though its original 1830s Greek Revival structure was replaced in the 1960s with a more modern looking building.

A few of these original churches have been transformed into synagogues since 1877, including the First German Baptist Church (1) which has been home to Congregation Tifereth Israel since the 1960s and the Bialystoker Synagogue, which moved into the landmarked Willet Street Methodist Episcopal Church building (13) in 1905. Another example is the St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church (38), which lost much of its congregation in the 1904 General Slocum disaster and sat empty for decades until the Sixth Street Synagogue moved in just before WWII.

Bialystoker today, 7 Willet St.
Today, the Lower East Side hosts some of the oldest churches in New York City. St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery (22) was built in 1799, on the site of a mid-seventeenth century Dutch chapel that predated Trinity Church on Wall Street. The original St. Patrick's Cathedral (30) opened in 1815, serving the local Irish Catholics, who also built St. Bridig's (27), "The Famine Church," in 1848.

If you would like to learn more about our local houses of worship, you may be interested in our seasonal Sacred Spaces walking tour of the Lower East Side.