From Reverend Ike to Bjork via Chinese Food and A Sculptor

by Emon Hassan on April 17, 2008

April 5. I had a blast that morning reading Rebecca Read Shanor’s The City That Never Was. Twittered the hell out too. I didn’t know that the first ‘international airport’ in NY was planned to be atop the Empire State Building. I didn’t know that in January 23, 1867 East River had turned to ice (dubbed ‘ice bridge’) and a baseball team played almost 9 innings on it. I didn’t know about Rev. Christian Reisner’s skyscraper cathedral story; he’d planned one in Washington Heights (complete with indoor swimming pools etc) and had created a lot of buzz around the idea. It turns out I live two and a half blocks from the Broadway Temple – eventually built as a smaller church by the same people who built the Empire State Building!

After returning book at the library and on the way home I decided I wanted some Chinese food. While waiting I snapped this.
Rev Ike

I’d taken another picture of this building – right behind the traffic light – some time ago.

Rain People

I couldn’t think of anything else to title it except “Rev. Ike”.  Some time later, fellow Flickr member, sculptor, lao_ren100 (Loren Madsen), left this comment:

Holy sh_t! Reverend Ike! I didn’t know he was still around.

I thought he was joking about Ike Turner or something. I didn’t know who Reverend Ike was. Wikipedias and Googles later…this is what I found.

This theater space on 175 – two blocks from Broadway Temple – is now called United Palace Theater and was one of the Wonder Theaters of the 1930s, knows as Loew’s 175. Rev. Ike, proponent of ‘Thinkonomics’ has owned this joint since the late 60s. Turns out it’s a concert venue as well. Bjork played in 2007 (fucking Bjork played a gig three blocks away from my house and I didn’t know!) and so did Neil Young [set list]. How the hell did I miss that! If I miss the Return to Forever concert in August, I better have a great explanation for myself.

What are the odds that I’d learn about two landmark structures, standing two blocks from one another, and two noted figures the same friggin’ morning? Rev. Reisner’s story fascinates me more out of the two. I tell you, if he’d gotten into making movies, DeMille would’ve felt insecure.

Man, I love my Washington Heights!

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