New York (Historical) Religion (Mosque & Church in Harlem) (116th St.)

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Big and yellow, bulbous green dome or dirty white ornately carved and Venetian, the public façades of religion in Harlem call out for attention, both to the physical sites themselves and to the history they embody. Both buildings are down the street from each other. I drive past them not infrequently, but this time I took some shots and did a little interneting.

The Malcom Shabazz Mosque No. 7 is where Malcom X preached before leaving the Nation of Islam. The building was gutted by a fire after Malcom’s assassination set by arsonists who blamed the Nation. The Nation then moved to a different location. The site at 116th and now Malcom X Blvd was then taken over by a Sunni community and dedicated to Malcom name in 1976. Their website is here.

As for 1st Corinthian Baptist, there’s a reason it doesn’t look like a church. 1st Corinthian Baptist used to be a movie palace, the Regent Theatre, designed by Thomas Lamb and built in 1912 to mimic the Doge’s palace in Venice. The point about such design both here and elsewhere across the country was to elevate the status of the new medium, the movies. Established in 1939, First Corinthinan moved onto the site in 1964. There’s more to see here, in this interesting report by the preservation committee responsible for landmarking the site.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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