united palace lobby
Photograph by Jon Ortner, Courtesy of United Palace

The words “stunning” and “opulent” are hardly enough to describe the grandeur of Washington Heights‘ United Palace, the fifth of 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 United Palace of Spiritual Arts, which saved it from demolition by purchasing the building in 1969.

While it’s still home to a spiritual center today, the theater — Manhattan’s fourth largest at 3,400 seats — also operates as a performance venue that has hosted a variety of artists including Lenny Kravitz, Adele, Bryan Ferry, Neil Young, and Bob Dylan, to name a few. In 2023, United Palace hosted the Tony Awards which have previously been hosted at the Plaza Hotel, Radio City Music Hall, and the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Explore 10 secrets of the United Palace below!

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

United Palace Exterior

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. The building immediately began hosting Sunday services and extensive restoration efforts were made 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.