New York City’s tallest Buddha sits rather inconspicuously for its 16-foot size. You can find it by wandering into the back room of the very red and very authentic Mahayana Buddhist Temple at 133 Canal Street — just make sure you’re dressed appropriately.

This Buddha sits atop a giant lotus flower, and has an ethereal blue halo around its head. Photos of the Buddha’s life accompany the statue on surrounding walls, and the tables surrounding are meant for families to provide offerings to deceased relatives.

This location wasn’t always so holy, though. Prior to the temple’s opening in 1997, this space was the “Rosemary Theater” which frequently showed adult films.


Fit for its large Buddha, the Mahayana temple is also the largest Buddhist temple in New York City. This temple is the “City Campus” of the larger church organization, “Eastern States Buddhist Temple of America.” Founding co-chairpeople Annie Ying and her husband, James Ying, founded this temple along with other branches on 64 Mott Street, and a more secluded “retreat” location in the forests of Cairo, New York.

Public services, which include all formalities such as drums, bells, and a gong, are held on weekends. For a dollar, you could also have your fortune read in the temple.

For more on Buddhism, check out the Buddha’s Tooth Relic Museum in Singapore. Also, for another interesting statue, check out this statue in NYC which survived the atomic bomb at Hiroshima.

Get in touch with the author @Arentyousokool