FROM ABYSSINIAN TO ZION: A Guide to Manhattan's Houses of Worship

David W. Dunlap, Author . Columbia Univ. Press $69.50 (400p) ISBN 978-0-231-12542-0 ISBN 978-0-231-12543-7

With 899 photographs and 24 maps, this encyclopedia of congregations and religious buildings in Manhattan is an indispensable resource for anyone who is interested in religion and architecture in the city. Published in collaboration with the New-York Historical Society, the book is not organized by neighborhood or denomination, but alphabetically. Most entries are a single paragraph long and focus on architectural features: Holy Fathers Russian Orthodox Church is a "Fabergé Easter egg of an architectural treat," while the Salvation Army headquarters on West 14th Street resembles "a medieval citadel" and the design of the Park East Synagogue is "almost hallucinatory" in its grandiosity. Several New York landmarks warrant page-long historical entries, including Saint Patrick's Cathedral ("the image of the Roman Catholic Church in America"), Riverside Church, Shearith Israel, Abyssinian Baptist, Brick Presbyterian, Grace Church and the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. Throughout, the book is filled with fascinating lore; the New York Buddhist Church on Riverside Drive, for example, contains a 15-foot bronze statue that survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. There are interesting mentions of the re-use of old buildings by other denominations or even other religions—a Dutch Reformed church is now home to a Chinese Presbyterian congregation; Bulgarian Orthodox Christians meet in a church that was once home to Lutherans and then Catholics; and the Sung Tak Buddhist Association occupies a former synagogue building on the Lower East Side. Overall, this is an outstanding handbook on religion in Manhattan. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/10/2004
Release date: 06/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 391 pages - 978-0-231-12543-7
Ebook - 400 pages - 978-0-231-50072-2
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