Historic Sites

 

 historic sites


African Burial Ground

One of the largest and earliest sites associated with American slavery. From the 1690s until 1794, nearly 20,000 free and enslaved Africans were buried in this 6.6-acre burial ground in Lower Manhattan, only “rediscovered” in 1991 as a consequence of the planned construction of a Federal office building.

Visit the NYPL's digital exhibit for more information, or listen to our podcast and panel discussion

Alwyn Court

Originally built with sprawling 14-room apartments, later subdivided, the facade of this building is covered with breathtaking terra-cota ornamental carvings in the Francois I style. Located one block north of Carnegie Hall, it is definitely worth a view.

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Alice Austen House

Home of the pioneering photographer, who captured a changing NYC in more than 7,000 pictures taken mostly around the turn of the 20th century, documenting her life on Staten Island and that of Manhattan’s immigrants and working class.

The cultural center presents exhibitions of Austen's work and contemporary photography, providing educational programs for students and cultural programs for the public.

In June 2017, the site (where Austen and her partner, Gertrude Tate, lived together for nearly 30 years) became a national designation of LGBTQ history.

 

Angel Orensanz Foundation

Built in 1849 as Anshe Chesed, this building is the oldest structure in the City built as a synagogue. Its Gothic Revival style, inspired by a Cologne Cathedral, was rescued from destruction by the Orensanz Foundation and adapted to a magnificent performance space.

Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum

Begun in 1836, the Pell mansion on Long Island Sound is a National Historic Landmark, with a Greek Revival interior, gray stone exterior, furnishings in Federal and Empire styles, plus a beautiful garden. (And, look, it really is a mansion.)

Beth Hamedrash Hagadol

This Gothic Revival former Baptist church was built in 1850, and purchased in 1885 by the oldest Russian Jewish Orthodox congregation in America.

Bialystoker Synagogue

Formerly a stop on the network of houses and churches in the Underground Railroad, originally named Willet St. Church.

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Bowne House

Built by John Bowne in 1661, this is one of New York City's oldest houses and a fine example of Dutch-English architecture. Owned by the family until 1945, the house has an extensive and notable collection of 17th and 18th c. furniture, pewter, artifacts, paintings, and documents. It was here that John Bowne voiced his opposition to the outlawing of the Quaker sect by New Amsterdam governor Peter Stuyvesant. Bowne's protest not only secured freedom of religion for the colony, but also established the precedent that arguably, more than a century later, led to the adoption of the First Amendment of the Constitution.

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Brotherhood Synagogue

Formerly Quaker Meeting, located in Gramercy Park’s historic district, and built in 1859 by the fashionable New York architects Gamaliel King and John W. Kellum. This Neo-Italian structure became part of the Underground Railroad, giving refuge to runaway slaves. Praised for its simple, expressive spatial quality, the meeting-house was acquired and restored in the 1970s by the Brotherhood Synagogue as a new home for their congregation.

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Carnegie Hall

The world famous concert hall opened on May 5, 1891 with a five-day festival during which the composer Tchaikovsky conducted his works. Built under Andrew Carnegie's patronage and designed by William Burnet Tuthill. In the late 1950's, the illustrious hall was nearly demolished save for the intervention of a group of citizens led by violinist Isaac Stern. In the 1980's the hall embarked on a $60 million renovation-restoration, the most extensive in its history, which was completed prior to the hall's centennial celebrations in 1990-91.

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Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine

The “mother church” of the Episcopal Diocese of New York and the Seat of its Bishop. It also maintains the preservation of the great architectural and historic site that is its legacy.

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Central Synagogue

This splendid Moorish Revival building designed by Henry Fernbach was built in 1872. Its sanctuary is the oldest Jewish house of worship in continuous use in the New York City. The structure features two star-studded bronze cupolas and a richly decorated interior of blues, earthy reds, ocher, and gilt — Moorish in inspiration but distinctly American 19th century. The Synagogue has an outstanding Judaica Museum which exhibits objects of Jewish life and ritual in exhibitions in the Synagogue and in the lobby of the Community House across the street at 123 East 55th Street.

Church of the Incarnation

This English Gothic Revival church, designed by architect E.T. Littell, opened its doors in the 1864. After a fire in 1882, it was rebuilt and enlarged and further restored in 1913. The church is richly decorated with windows, murals, wood carvings, statues and memorials by many well-known artists, including Daniel Chester French, John LaFarge, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Augustus Saint Gaudens, Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris.

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Church of the Intercession

Called a Gothic Revivalist Dream come true, the Church of the Intercession is set on a bluf overlooking the Hudson River. Built in 1914, the large church, tower, cloister, parish house, and vicarage were designed by Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue for an independent congregation of the Episcopal Church of New York. The adjoining bucolic churchyard was once the rural cemetery of Wall Street's Trinity Church. In even earlier times, it was part of the farm of John James Audubon, the great artist-naturalist.

Conference House

Built in 1680 as the home of Christopher Billopp, the house served as the site of unsuccessful peace talks on September 11, 1776 between Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Edward Rutledge, and Admiral Lord Richard Howe. The house became a historic museum in 1927 and has since been restored to a mid-18th century likeness.

Congregation Shaarai Shomoyim

First Romanian-American congregation. An impressive, much neglected interior distinguishes this imposing Romanesque-Revival building, which began as a church in 1890.

Dyckman Farmhouse Museum

The only remaining Dutch farmhouse in Manhattan, built after the Hessian occupation. The Museum (pictured right) has the archive of the Dyckman family, plus nearly 5,000 objects gathered by amateur archaeologists who scoured northern Manhattan one hundred years ago, looking for remnants of its past as the city was expanding; many dating to the War for Independence, a key period in the neighborhood’s history.

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Edgar Allen Poe Cottage

This small cottage, where, from 1846-49 Poe wrote "Annabel Lee" and "Eureka" among other works, was the last home of the poet. It is typical of the kinds of workmen's houses that used to dominate the Bronx and has been open as a museum since 1917. Tour includes 20 min. video on Poe's life and times in 1840s New York.

Learn more here.

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Eldridge St. Synagogue and Museum

Built in 1887, this first major synagogue of Eastern European Jews is slowly being restored and encouraging vestiges of its former grandeur are already in view.

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Evergreens Cemetery

Organized in 1849 as a non-sectarian cemetery, under the Rural Cemetery Act of 1847, the cemetery borders Brooklyn and Queens and covers 225 acres of rolling hills and gently sloping meadows. The cemetery offers a General Interest Tour, focusing on the unique characters and characteristics of the Evergreens; a Military and War Tour, focusing on highlights from the Revolutionary and Civil War; a Brooklyn-centric Tour, focusing on the role the Evergreens and its inhabitants played in the history of the borough; and the Entertainers and Other Famous Folks Tour, focusing on the great performers buried here, like Bojangles, Winsor McCay, and Lester Young.

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Federal Hall

First capitol of the United States and the site of George Washington's inauguration.

Listen to our podcast about the building, remodeled by Pierre Charles L’Enfant (of Washington, DC fame).

First Roumanian American Congregation

This red brick former Methodist church was built in 1850. It is known as "the Cantor's Carnegie Hall" because opera stars Jan Peerce, Richard Tucker and others launched their careers here.

Fraunces Tavern Museum

The building where George Washington said farewell to his officers at the close of the American Revolution. The Museum places particular emphasis on the history of the tavern and Lower Manhattan during the war for independence, where it played a significant role in pre-Revolutionary activities. After the war, when New York was the first capital, the tavern was rented to the new government to house the Departments of War, Treasury and Foreign Affairs. In 1904, the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York purchased the tavern and hired preservation architect William Mersereau to return the building to its colonial appearance, and opened it to the public in 1907. The museum complex includes four 19th century buildings, in addition.

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Friends Meeting House

Now, and from its earliest days, a Quaker meeting house, this landmark building used to shelter escaped slaves as part of NYC's underground railroad, and has been credited (tendentiously) as the birthplace of religious liberty in America.

We have a podcast on this one, too.

 

Garibaldi-Meucci Museum

Imagine Giuseppe Garibaldi, "the legendary hero of two worlds," noted for his liberation efforts in South America and his unification of Italy, and the Florentine-born engineer and inventor Antonio Meucci, actually talking over the telephone in 1850 in a quaint home in Staten Island. This remarkable moment, which unravels history, is commemorated in the very house in which Garibaldi and Meucci lived. Today the house is a National Landmark owned and administered by the Order Sons of Italy in America. Visit the actual place where telephone history was made, where a great friendship thrived and where the vision of Italian Unification was formed. View documents, historic telephone models and hand-hewn furniture of Meucci's home. Learn how Meucci discovered how he could transmit a human voice over a copper wire charged with electricity--at a time when Alexander Graham Bell was a small child in Scotland. Find out why Garibaldi refused Abraham Lincoln's offer to become a Commanding General in the Union Army during the Civil War.

 
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General Theological Seminary

The Seminary campus, which occupies an entire city block called Chelsea Square, is an island of utter tranquility. Found here in a setting of lawn and trees U.S. Commissioned by the Seminary's third dean, Eugene Augustus Hoffman, and designed by Charles Coolidge Haight in the 1880s. The campus was inspired by the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge. Among its 19 buidlings are the Chapel of the Good Shepherd, a bell tower, St. Marks Library, the Dean's residence and a dormitory and classroom buildings, including a duplicate of the first Gothic Revival classroom building in the U.S., constructed on this site in 1826.

Gracie Mansion

Located on the banks of the East River, this building was constructed in 1799 as the country house of Archibald Gracie, a Scottish shipping magnate. The elite of New York and the literati of the day were entertained in the Federal style mansion notable for its three-sided porch and the trellis railings that sweep around the house at the upper levels. Gracie Mansion was acquired by the City of New York in 1896, and since 1942 it has been the official residence of the City's mayors. Today, ten rooms are open to the public, featuring art and antiques illustrating the history of the City of New York. Adjoining the mansion are a public part and beautiful river side promenade.

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Governors Island

A major Coast Guard base until 1996, this 172-acre (70 ha) island was also the key military strategic defense point for NYC during the maritime age.

Listen to our podcast about the island’s history and future here.

Green-Wood Cemetery

Built in 1838 by order of the City of Brooklyn. A great example of 19th century landscape design, its grounds are scattered with buildings in a host of architectural styles. And lots of famous people are buried here: Leonard Bernstein, Samuel F. B. Morse, Peter Cooper, Henry Ward Beecher, General Henry Halleck, Louis Comfort Tiffany, George Ebbets, to name a few. Moreover, you can find art on the grounds by George Bellows, Louis C. Tiffany, John Lafarge, George Catlin, William Merrit Chase, and Karl Muller, among others.

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Hall of Fame for Great Americans

America's first hall of fame, the NYC landmark designed by Stanford White, is an outdoor open-air colonnade on the highest natural point in New York City. Contains 98 bronze busts of men and women who have contributed to American society.

Hamilton Fish Park and Recreation Center

This Beaux Arts community center sits in a huge recreational park, opened as a gymnasium in 1900, imitating the Petit Palais in the Paris Exhibition that year.

Harbor Defense Museum at Fort Hamilton

Built between 1825 and 1831 to defend the narrows of the harbor, this is New York's first granite fort and “the face of America’s Army” in the City. Features of the preserved fort include a house where Robert E. Lee is said to have lived, the 1892 officers quarters, the 1896 commissary, and barracks constructed between 1908 and 1910. Several exhibitions tell the history of defending the harbor.

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Hendrick I. Lott House

One of the oldest extant Dutch Colonial farmhouses remaining in NYC.

Henry Street Settlement

These charming early 19th-century Federal and Greek Revival style town houses are the headquarters for the social agency founded by Lillian Wald in 1867.

Listen to our podcast about Wald’s famous organization here.

Historic House Trust of New York City

Founded in 1989 to work in partnership with the City of New York and Parks and Recreation to preserve, enhance, and support 19th c. historic house museums located in parks in all five boroughs.

Historic Richmond Town

This historic village began as a hamlet in 1690, and by 1730 became the seat of county government. It was restored to portray the evolution of a Staten Island settlement during the 17th, 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. Occupying 100 acres, Richmond Town has more than two dozen buildings representing a variety of architectural styles across four centuries. Authentic furnishings, antique toys, vehicles, costumes and churches, trade shops, and even the jail of the village. Town life and the activities of its early householders, farmers, merchants and tradesmen are reenacted for visitors.

 
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House of The National Society of Colonial Dames

An interpretive reconstruction of a house built in 1750 on Wall Street in Lower Manhattan. Constructed by Colonial Revival architect Richard Henry Dana in 1928-1930, it borrows architectural and interior design elements from such renowned colonial house as the Philipse Manor in Yonkers and Governor's Palace and Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg. The house features colonial furnishings, paintings and porcelains.

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Irish Hunger Memorial

A physical representation of a rural Irish landscape with an abandoned stone cottage, stone walls, fallow potato fields, and the flora on the north Connacht wetlands: a metaphor for the Great Irish Famine that made New York for nearly a century an Irish-dominated city, and a reminder that hunger today is often the result of land inequality.

Kehila Kedosha Janina

Built in 1927, this is the only Romaniote synagogue in the Western Hemisphere. Greek Jews practice a 2000 year old tradition that is separate and distinct from Sephardic and Ashkenasi Jews. The synagogue houses a unique museum and gallery of Greek Jewish life and culture.

Kingsland Homestead

The Queens Historical Society makes it home in this typical 18th century homestead (pictured, right). Its name derives form the British sea captain who bought the house in 1801. It offers a Victorian period room, and an exhibition covering 300 years of Queens History.

King Manor Museum

This early 19th century house takes its name from Rufus King, one of the most distinguished figures in the nation's early history. King served as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, U.S. Senator, Ambassador to Great Britain, and Federalist Candidate for Vice President and President. Throughout his life, he was noted for his position against slavery. In 1805, he purchased a farmhouse in the village of Jamaica, which he had expanded and remodeled in the Federal style. Located in an eleven-acre park, King Manor has been restored as a history museum to illuminate King's life and the community and time in which he lived. It features exhibits, tours of historic period rooms, special events, education programs and teachers' resources.

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Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church

A Romanesque Revival building with Tiffany windows that was once part of New York's underground railroad network. Tours include old basement tunnels.

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Lefferts Historic House

Dutch Colonial farmhouse converted in 1918 to an historical house museum for children. Special attention is given to life in the once-small community of Flatbush as it was lived by African Americans, Lenape natives, and Dutch children.

Lewis H. Latimer House

The home of African-American scientist and inventor Lewis H. Latimer. Now a museum with period rooms and galleries dedicated to his life and work. By observation and study, Latimer became a self-taught draftsman after the Civil War, and worked his way up the new electrical industry to become an accomplished engineer. He drafted patent plans for Alexander Graham Bell's telephone and was one of the pioneers who worked with Thomas Edison. He invented a new, more durable filament for the electric light bulb, displayed in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, and he supervised the installation of street lighting in Montreal, New York, Philadelphia and London.

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Little Red Lighthouse

Manhattan's only remaining lighthouse, now under the George Washington Bridge.

Louis Armstrong House

Armstrong, perhaps the 20th century's most famous musician, lived for almost thirty years in a modest house in Corona, Queens. After he and his wife passed away, the house was discovered to be filled with a treasure of homemade tape recordings, scrapbooks, photographs, autobiographical manuscripts, trumpets and other material. All of which is currently available to the public through the Louis Armstrong Archives at Queens College, which administers the House.

Macedonia A.M.E. Church

Founded in 1811, this church was once used to house fugitive slaves in a basement area underneath the chapel.

Maple Grove Cemetery

A lovely and historic sixty-five-acre cemetery in Queens, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Merchant's House

Manhattan's only family home, preserved inside and out, from the 19th century. "We tell the story of what life was really like."

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Morris-Jumel Mansion

This grand colonial mansion, built in 1765 as a summer retreat for the British colonel, French & Indian War leader and slaveowner Roger Morris, is Manhattan's oldest residential structure. It became headquarters to George Washington at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, and home to Aaron Burr thereafter. Today it features eleven restored period rooms.

Click here for our podcast about its longest-running owner, Betsy Bowen, the woman raised in a brothel and indentured as a servant, who reinvented herself as Eliza Jumel and became one of early New York’s richest women.

Mount Vernon Hotel Museum and Garden

Transports visitors back to the days when midtown was a country escape for New Yorkers living in the crowded city at the southern tip of the island. The Museum's period rooms represent its existence as the Mount Vernon Hotel, New York's only surviving country day hotel.

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National Jazz Museum

Founded in 1997 as part of the Smithsonian, this building celebrates the history of the music and its "cradle," Harlem. The Museum also has nearly 1,000 discs of recorded radio broadcasts made by audio engineer William Savory in the swing era, includes performances by luminaries such as Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, and Benny Goodman, which captured extended live shows and jam sessions that many thought would be lost forever. The recordings are being digitized for purchase and downloading.

New York Botanical Garden / Enid A. Haupt Conservatory

Built in 1891, these grounds include one of the oldest largest botanical gardens in the country, and several historic landmark sites, including the Conservatory itself (1901), the Snuff Mill (1840), and the Stone Cottage (1840).

New York Landmark Conservancy

A nationally recognized organization that helps preserve homes, businesses, social service centers, cultural institutions, schools, houses of worship, and tourist destinations.

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Old Stone House

Originally built on the Gowanus Creek by a Dutch immigrant, Claes Arentson Vechte, in 1699, this house has an eclectic and colorful history, including connections to the Battle of Brooklyn and the Dodgers. Today, the OSH is an "historic interpretive center" that runs educational programs and houses exhibits on New York history.

Our Lady of Sorrows Roman Catholic Church

Flamboyant colors give this soaring 1867 church an operatic presence.

Plymouth Church

This National Historic Landmark building was part of NYC's underground railroad network in the 19th century.

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Queens County Farm Museum

Built in 1772 and added to in the 1830s, the house combines Dutch and English architectural styles. Situated on what was a family farm from 1772 until 1927, the Queens County Farm Museum now serves to educate visitors about the history of farming in Queens. The forty-seven-acre park features planted fields and grazing livestock to illustrate the basic workings. Built in 1772 and added to in the 1830s, the house also combines examples of Dutch and English architectural styles. Tours are offered.

Samuel MacKenzie Elliot House

Built around 1850 by prominent New York abolitionist Dr. Samuel McKenzie Elliot, this house is an official NYC landmark and was a stop on the underground railroad. It is now a private residence.

Seward Park Library

A stunningly grand library with elaborate masonry, built in 1909.

Seguine Mansion

Although the land was purchased by James Seguine in 1786, it was his grandson, Joseph Seguine, who built the still standing Greek Revival-style house in 1838. The house was bought in 1981 by George Burke, who made necessary repairs and refurbishments, and later donated it to new York City in 1989

St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church

This venerable 1833 Roman Catholic church structure was built of gray stone and expanded in 1871 with idiosyncratic steeples atop an oddly proportioned brick facade.

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Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre

The cottage was originally built in Sweden with the purpose of being sent to America to serve as Sweden's pavilion in the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Following the exposition, Frederick Law Olmsted was able to acquire the structure in order to incorporate it into his plans for Central Park. In 1947 the cottage became home to the New York City Parks Department's travelling Marionette troupe, which can still be seen performing.

 

Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace

Home of the first U.S. President born and raised in NYC.

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Trinity Church

Chartered by King William III in 1697, the present structure, the third on this site, is located at Wall Street and Broadway (once the upper reaches of New Amsterdam, now the center of the financial district). Designed in the Gothic Revival style by Richard Upjohn in 1864, it remains one of the finest examples of English Gothic in North America.

Valentine-Varian House

Built in 1758, near the old Boston Post Road linking Boston and New York, this Georgian home was owned by a blacksmith (Valentine) and later a butcher (Varian) and was so near fighting in the Revolution that its first owner was forced to abandon it. Now home to the Museum of Bronx History. Focuses on early New York history: Indian and Dutch through the Revolution.

Van Cortlandt House Museum

The oldest residence in the Bronx (1748). A three story Georgian home with 17th and 18th century Dutch and English furnishing this house was once a prosperous plantation and the site of Revolutionary War marches (Washington's 1783). Owned by the Van Cortlandts until 1889.

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Vander Ende-Onderdonk Farmhouse Museum

Originally a part of the Hendrick Barentz Smith plantation, received in a land grant from New Amsterdam governor Peter Stuyvesant. Constructed between 1660 and 1790, the house was rebuilt in 1981 after a fire, and now serves as a museum for the study of local history, culture, architecture, and archeology, from native times to the present.

Wave Hill

Built in 1843 and formerly the residence of Mark Twain, who is reputed to have exclaimed, "It makes me want to live forever." Wave Hill is now a twenty-eight-acre garden and cultural institution. There were additions to the home in 1890 and 1928. Architecturally and historically significant, it offers programs in horticulture, environmental education, landscape management, and visual and performing arts; and hosts concerts, exhibitions, and family programs.

Wyckoff House Museum

Begun in 1652, this is New York's oldest structure and one of the oldest wooden frame houses in America. It was the first site to be designated a Landmark upon the creation of the Preservation Commission in 1965 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1968. Pieter Claesen emigrated from the Netherlands in 1637 as an indentured servant and, through connections to Peter Stuyvesant, Director-General of New Netherlands, settled in what was then known as New Amersfoort. Successive generations of Wyckoffs farmed the land until 1901. His descendents donated the house to the City in 1969 and after an exhaustive restoration it opened as a museum in 1982. The Museum’s mission is to educate New Yorkers about the earliest patterns of Dutch and English agrarian life in the region.

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Wunsch Building (formerly Bridge St. Church)

Part of the underground railroad.

Young Israel and Shteibl Row

The world's first Young Israel got its start in 1912 in the two tenement buildings which originally housed the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. The other tenements on this East Broadway block continue to house small synagogues, one per floor (shteiblach).