Nineteenth Street Synagogue
September 12, 1860
Members of the congregation continued to move uptown and so in 1860 Shearith Israel built its fourth synagogue, this one on nineteenth Street, just west of Fifth Avenue. The ceremonies of consecration were set for Wednesday, September 12, 1860, a date which was characterized as commemorating the 206th anniversary of the arrival of the Founding Fathers of Shearith Israel on the island of Manhattan.
The building was nearly square, and built in the Palladian style of architecture, in two orders- the Ionic and Corinthian. It was surmounted by a high, octagonal dome with paneled sides. The materials of the front were Dorchester or Nova Scotia stone.
The Jewish Messenger noted that "the present place of worship is probably the handsomest edifice of this kind in the United States." Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper reported that "it is said that the ark of this Synagogue is the finest in the world" and that the synagogue as a whole was "decidedly one of the prominent lions and curiosities of New York." In 1860, it was the highest building to be seen above Fourteenth Street.
Poor acoustics and many flights of steps made the grand and stately building difficult to use. No sooner had the congregation moved into the Ninteenth Street synagogue than there was already talk of moving again. Additionally, the neighborhood began to change, becoming more commercial and less residential as congregants continued moving uptown.