How to Find Places to Find Peace and Worship in Lower Manhattan
New York City is full of excitement and energy with so much to do and see. Students at Pace University’s English Language Institute have the opportunity to enjoy New York’s famous sites, restaurants and entertainment on a daily basis. After classes at Pace, friends often gather to plan their next adventure.
Can you imagine exploring Central Park on a warm summer evening, walking up 5th Avenue and window shopping (or buying), or eating at Chinatown’s many authentic restaurants whenever you want? Students at Pace University have all of this and more at their doorstep.
However, sometimes you need a little quiet time, a place where you can go to calm your mind and connect with your spiritual side, and since New York is a melting pot of cultures, finding a place to worship that fits your belief system is not hard to do.
For the sake of space, we’ve listed only the major religious traditions in this blog post, but a simple Google search will set you on the right path. Some centers of worship are famous landmarks in their own right, and several are located in walking distance to Pace University’s Lower Manhattan campus.
The Council of Churches of the City of New York estimates that there are more than 4,000 denominational Christian churches in the five boroughs, a figure that does not include independent Christian churches or the many hundreds of non-Christian places of worship.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Chapel is closest to Pace University and is famous for a visit by President George Washington, our first U.S President, after his inauguration on nearby Wall Street in 1789. It also played an important role after the attacks of September 11, 2001 by providing meals, shelter and other services to hundreds of recovery workers at Ground Zero.
The churchyard is open to visitors who wish to visit the historic memorials and monuments or to enjoy a quiet moment. Free guided tours are offered Fridays at 3pm. Meet at the pulpit inside St. Paul’s Chapel!
A few blocks south of St Paul’s Chapel and across the road from Wall Street is another historical Episcopal church, well known for its beauty and famous inhabitant buried in the cemetery. Trinity Church was first built in 1697 but the most current church was built in 1846, and for more than 40 years, its ornate steeple was the tallest structure in New York. Its stained glass windows are a must see and the famous person buried in the cemetery is Alexander Hamilton, former treasury secretary and now Broadway “star” in the hottest play on Broadway, Hamilton. (If you can get a cheap ticket to this play, consider yourself lucky.)
The church hosts multiple services every day.
A short subway ride from Pace University, students can find the revitalized and thriving Lower East Side neighborhood, and home to the Eldridge Street Synagogue, built in 1887.
It was the first house of worship built in America by Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. It signified religious freedom to Jewish migrants and today is the only remaining symbol of their journey.
While the Eldridge Street Synagogue will provide a historical perspective, there are many temples in Lower Manhattan for quiet reflection and worship. Finding one requires a simple Yelp search for synagogues in Lower Manhattan. Yelp provides comments and reviews to help find one suitable for you.
Within walking distance to Pace University, Muslim students can find a small but extremely active mosque. Masjid Manhattan is located in the Financial District near Wall Street.
It was established in 1970 and offers educational programs to Muslims and non-Muslims. Manhattan’s largest mosque is the Islamic Cultural Center on the Upper East Side. This building is quite impressive with its minaret and massive domed mosque.
More mosques are found in the boroughs outside of Manhattan, which again can be reviewed with a simple Yelp search.
Buddhist temples are found all over the city, many in Chinatown, such as the Mahayana Temple, which is the largest with a magnificent 16ft-high Buddha statue in its main hall and two giant golden lions as symbols of protection at the entrance.
Since styles of Buddhism vary depending on your country of origin, you may have to look outside of Chinatown. For example, Sri Lankans gather at the Buddhist Vihara on Staten Island and Thais at Wat Buddha Thai Thavorn Vanaram in Elmhurst, Queens.
The outer boroughs like Queens or Brooklyn are where you find the most active Hindu temples like the eye-popping Ganesh Temple in Flushing, Queens with its towering gateways embellished with stone peacocks, monkeys, eagles and representations of Ganesh. New Jersey’s Jersey City has one of largest Indian communities in the area and is only a short PATH train ride from Pace University’s Lower Manhattan campus.
If communing with nature is more your style, visit one of New York City’s beautiful (and somewhat serene) parks. City Hall Park (pictured here in spring) is a two-minute walk from Pace University.
Whatever you decide to do, it is always a good idea to find time to relax and enjoy the city while you study in New York.
- window shopping (v): to look at merchandise in the windows without buying
- melting pot (n): a place where many cultures live and work together
- belief system (n): a defined set of beliefs
- denominational (adj): a particular religious faith within a larger religious organization
- inauguration (n): a ceremony usually for political figures entering office
- pulpit (n): the platform from where a religious figure (priest, imam, rabbi) gives a sermon
- inhabitant (n): a person or animal that lives in a particular place
- ornate (adj): excessively decorated
- steeple (n): a tall structure usually attached to the top of a church
- revitalized (adj): something old that is made new
- minaret (n): a tall tower usually attached to a mosque
- domed (adj): a curved (roof, head)
- eye-popping (adj): stunning, attractive
- embellished (v): decorated
- communing (v): to communicate intimately
- serene (adj): quiet, peaceful
WRITTEN BY LISA KRAFT