Photograph by Jon Ortner, Courtesy of United Palace

The words “stunning” and “opulent” are hardly enough to describe the grandeur of Washington HeightsUnited Palace, the fifth of the Loew’s Wonder Theatres built in the New York City metropolitan area. When it opened in 1930 as the Loew’s 175th Street Theatre, the space primarily hosted first-run movies and vaudeville events. Today, it continues to stand thanks to the efforts of the church founded by Rev. Frederick J. Eikerenkoetter II (Reverend Ike), which saved it from demolition by purchasing it in 1969.

While it’s still home to his spiritual center today, the theater — Manhattan’s fourth largest at 3,400 seats — also operates as performance venue and serves as the site of the United Palace of Cultural Arts, a non-profit dedicated to utilizing the theater as an arts and cultural center. The organization was founded by Xavier Eikerenkotter, the son of Reverend Ike, and organizes a variety of diverse programming throughout the year, including, film festivals, concerts, and live music performances.

Given its illustrious history and splendor, we’re excited to announce our new behind the scenes tour of the United Palace, which takes place on July 29th. During this free, members only event for Untapped Cities Insiders, we’ll be taking our readers inside the entertainment palace, where they can learn about its restoration and transformation into a cultural venue, and see close up details of the lobby and auditorium. Sign up to be an Untapped Cities Insider to get access to the tour!

In the meantime, here are 10 secrets about the United Palace:

1. The United Palace Still Looks Like It Did When It Opened

When the Loew’s 175th Street shuttered in 1969, Rev. Ike’s church purchased the building that same year for over half a million dollars, and renamed it the United Palace. It immediately began holding Sunday services there and commissioned extensive restoration efforts to bring the space back to the original grandeur envisioned by architect, Thomas Lamb.

Today, the theater still looks very much as it did when it first opened in 1930 with the exception of a cupola (prayer tower) that was added in the 1970s by Rev. Ike. Located on the northeast corner of the building, on Wadsworth Avenue and West 176th Street, it’s crowned by a “Miracle Star of Faith,” which is visible from the George Washington Bridge and New Jersey.

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