Though New York City is far younger than many European cities, we still have our fair share of crypts and catacombs scattered throughout the city. And some of them host unique events, for those who dare. The Church of the Intercession in Harlem, for example, hosts jazz concerts (and more) in its crypt.
The Church of the Intercession might seem like other churches from ground level, but it’s what lies beneath its main sanctuary that makes it one of the most unique in the country. When the church was completed in 1915, its 2300 square foot underground crypt officially became the first columbarium (a place to hold cinerary urns) built within a church in the United States. While the crypt has had limited public viewings within its century of existence, it wasn’t until a 2011 church Halloween party that got them thinking, “Hey, what if we had jazz gigs down here?”
The Church of the Intercession has since hosted an array of musical and theatrical events in the walls of the once-silent columbarium. The events spotlight local Harlem musicians, performers, and comedians. The crypt has also been a hit for private functions, including an exclusive fan concert performed by the cast of the 2012 Broadway revival of Jesus Christ Superstar. Bill Rudolph, the Music Director at the Church of the Intercession, touted that the crypt can even be used as a band venue space as long as 50% of ticket sales are collected for church donations.
This is a must-visit if you’re into the “underground” music scene. The next Jazz at the Crypt is on August 16th, but there will be chamber music in the crypt on July 12th. Check the church’s monthly event schedule for other upcoming public performances. Read more about crypts and catacombs on Untapped Cities.