6. The Museum at Eldridge Street

Eldridge Street synagogue interior

Perhaps the most famous repurposed synagogue is at 12 Eldridge Street. Now known as the Museum at Eldridge Street, this landmark synagogue was built in 1887. According to the Museum’s website, it was the first synagogue in America purpose-built by immigrants from Eastern Europe. After fifty years of wild success, by 1924, the synagogue started to decline. The recently enacted Immigrant Quota Laws and an increasing exodus of the Jewish population to other boroughs were major factors.

For forty years, the congregation worshipped in the lower levels of the building, leaving the gorgeous main sanctuary space closed off. It wasn’t until 1986 that restoration began, a process that would take nearly twenty years. Today, the beautifully restored space hosts tours, school programs, concerts, talks, festivals, and other cultural events that celebrate the history of the neighborhood and Jewish New York.