Harlem’s Jewish Past
The Jewish presence in Harlem before The Depression has given us a number of landmarked structures that have (often) since been converted into churches. One of the most elegant of these buildings is, of course, the Mount Olivet Baptist Church which was once Temple Israel.
But Jewish Harlem had more than houses of worship, they also had houses of amusement. This article from the New York Times details the construction of a new Harlem Yiddish Theatre:
Note the transition from a white church, to the First Colored Church, to a Yiddish theatre.
As the neighborhood changed, this building, 11 West 116th Street, would also change hands and become a church, again.
Today this location is a construction site where a residential building (with commercial below) is being built.
A few doors east – The Mount Morris Theater – would also start as a Yiddish theater and Harlem movie house, but by the 1930s, become probably the most popular of several Spanish-language movie houses in New York. Spanish-speakers from all over the city would come to “Spanish Harlem” to enjoy the stage and screen shows offered at the Teatro Campoamor, which would later be known also as the Teatro Cervantes, Teatro Hispano and Radio Teatro Hispano.
This former theater/movie house is now an Apostolic Church