New York City’s Most Sacred Sites

by Rose Brennan & Alyssa Velazquez

Asst. Editor & Editor

New York City is home to 8.5 million people, and they all believe in something, even if that “something” is nothing at all.  However, for the more religious New Yorkers, the city is home to several sites of spiritual significance.  The sites are as diverse as the city to which they belong, and they are all merely a subway ride away to any who are willing to take the trip.

Cathedral of Saint Patrick

51st Street and Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y.

Manhattan is home to many Catholic churches and holy sites, but the Cathedral of Saint Patrick is by far the largest and grandest.  But it is also a destination to people of many faiths, as an estimated five million people visit the cathedral every year.  The cathedral has several different altars which serve different purposes, including a baptistery, a sanctuary, shrines for specific Catholic saints (including Saint John Baptist de la Salle) and the Lady Chapel.  Candles are scattered throughout the cathedral, which add to the cathedral’s stately yet inviting ambience, making it a place of welcome for people of all religions

How to get there: take the 1 downtown to 50 St

Hillsong Church

311 W. 34 St., New York, NY

Upon entering the Hammerstein Ballroom, one might confuse the stage, lights, and crowd for what is about to be a concert. In reality, the ballroom is home to another worship group. Hillsong Church is a Christian music, praise, and worship group that originated in Sydney, Australia in 1983. The group now has locations across the country and around the world, providing services that have a primary focus on worship and praise. The church is known for their music, hence the concert-like atmosphere, and begins and ends every service with a set list led by a group of singers and instrumentalists. The group even has a documentary on their services called “Hillsong: Let Hope Rise.” Straying from traditional forms of worship, Hillsong Church provides uplifting services for anyone interested, no matter their religion.

How to get there: take the 1 downtown to 34 St/Penn Station

Eldridge Street Synagogue (at the Museum at Eldridge Street)

12 Eldridge St., New York, N.Y.

Chinatown in downtown Manhattan would be the last place one would expect to find a synagogue, but that is right where the Museum at Eldridge Street is located.  Before the influx of Chinese-American immigrants came to Lower Manhattan and made the area what it is today, the area actually had a large Jewish population.  The Museum at Eldridge Street is a National Historic Landmark and serves as a testament to the Jewish population of New York City.  The Museum also doubles as a synagogue, and its religious center is truly breathtaking.  The Museum at Eldridge Street is a sight to behold as both a center for education and worship.

How to get there: Take the 1 downtown to 59 St/Columbus Circle, transfer to a downtown B or D and get off at Grand St

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The New York Mosque (at the Islamic Cultural Center)

1711 Third Ave., New York, N.Y.

The Islamic Cultural Center was built in the 1960s and is a major site for New York Muslims and Muslims from around the world.  The mosque is not the only component of the center either; its facilities include a school, a library, a museum, a lecture hall and residence for the Center’s imams.  The New York Mosque is actually an offset of the original New York City Islamic Cultural Center on West 72nd Street.  The Center actually has a tie to Manhattan College: Samer Alraey, the college’s Muslim chaplain, once served as an imam at this Upper East Side mosque.  However, it is a place of worship and beauty for all of New York City, not just people from Manhattan College.

How to get there: Take the 1 downtown to Times Sq/42 St, transfer to an uptown Q and get off at 96 St

Mahayana Buddhist Temple

133 Canal St., New York, N.Y.

The dimly lit temple, evoking a sense of comfort, welcomes both tourists and worshippers alike. Home to one of the largest Buddha statues sitting on a lotus flower, scaling up to 16 feet in height, the Mahayana Buddhist Temple is one of the most well-known Buddhist temples in New York City. Although the temple is a place of worship for many, it wasn’t known for its sacredness until after 1996. Prior, the location of the temple was known as a theater for adult films. Within the temple guarded by two Chinese lions, sits the statue of the Buddha surrounded by candles, incense, and offerings such as apples and peaches. Along the south wall are pictures depicting the journey of Prince Siddhartha and how he became known as the founder of the Buddhist teachings. Regardless of one’s beliefs, the temple offers the tranquility one may need to escape the rush of the city and just reflect.

How to get there: Take the 1 downtown  to 59 St/Columbus Circle, transfer to a downtown B or D and get off at Grand Street