Here is a small collection of hidden historical treasures in the WaHI community. These stops each are incredibly important to the community in its own way and is a tribute to the diverse history WaHI has been shaped by.


I. The United Palace Theater
Also known as the Lowe's 175th street theater, it opened in 1930 as one of the main movie palaces in Manhattan. It was saved from demolition in the late 1960's by Reverend Ike who helped to raise enough money to restore it before his passing in 2009. Now it is a church and a live music venue where artists such as Vampire Weekend, Ani Difranco, Adele, and Bob Dylan have come to played. The most remarkable part of this building is the interior which is one of the most elaborately decorated interiors in the city. Watch the short video below made by The City Concealed, talking a bit about this historic theater.








II. The Audubon Ballroom

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This historic ballroom was built in 1912 by William Fox, the creator of 20th century Fox. It housed a 2500 seat theater and a ballroom that could fit up to 200 guests on the second floor. It's decor was very theatrical, with an exterior featuring a sculpture of Neptune amidst waves. He also added a few foxes that flank the windows as his own personal signature. In the 1930's the building housed several worker's unions meetings as well as a Jewish congregation. In the 1950's this ballroom started to become a hub for the Black community in Harlem and WaHI. The King and Queen of Harlem were annual crowned there at the New York Mardi Gras festival (5).

Perhaps the most famous person to use the Audubon Ballroom was civil rights leader Malcolm X. When he returned to New York City in 1964 after his pilgrimage to Mecca, he formed the Organization of Afro-American Unity and made the Ballroom his headquarters. On February 21st 1964, he was assassinated on the stage of the ballroom while giving a speech. After this tragic even the ballroom became a metaphor for the Black struggle in America (3).

In 1989, after the ballroom had been closed for 9 years, Columbia University made an agreement with NYC (who owned it at the time) to have it torn down to make room for a research facility. African American community activists and Columbia University students protested the demolition and reached a compromise where the facade and the interior ballroom are still standing. CUMC restored the facade that faces Broadway and the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Education Center is located in the lobby of the Audubon Hall (3).

III. The Hispanic Society of America Museum and Library

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This museum has called WaHI home for the last one hundred and five years. It was founded by Archer Milton Huntington in 1904 and sits across Trinity Cemetery, the only active cemetery in Manhattan. This cemetery houses much of NYCs historical elite. The museum houses several works from Spain, Portugal, and the Philippines. The focus of the collection is on the Spanish golden age from 1550-1700. One of Goya's most famous paintings, The Duchess of Alba, is housed here. There are also works by Velazquez, Zubaran, and El Greco. This is an absolute must see for art lovers everywhere, and its right down the street! (17). To find out more about the museum, visit them here
hispanic society
goya
Portrait of the Duchess of Alba





IV. The Cloisters

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A branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters focuses on medieval European art and sculpture and is located in Fort Tryon Park. This museum is in existence due to a stipulation in John D Rockefeller Jr's will that called for several acres of his estate (now Fort Tryon Park) be set aside for a museum to medieval art (17). Not only is the museum home to several of the finest pieces of medieval art in the city, the gardens are absolutely stunning, as you can see from the google view above.


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