A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from September 11, 2005
The Little Chapel That Could (St. Paul’s); The Little Church That Could (St. Nicholas)
St. Paul's was still standing after September 11, 2001, helping the victims in that tragedy. It quickly earned the nickname "Little Church That Could" or "Little Chapel That Could."

The first two citations below, however, refer to the St. Nicholas church that was destroyed. The congregation survived.

Wikipedia: St. Paiul's Chapel
St. Paul's Chapel, is an Episcopal chapel located at 209 Broadway, between Fulton and Vesey Streets, in lower Manhattan in New York City. It is the oldest surviving church building in Manhattan.
September 11, 2001
The rear of St. Paul's Chapel faces Church Street, opposite the east side of the World Trade Center site. After the attack on September 11, 2001, which led to the collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center, St. Paul's Chapel served as a place of rest and refuge for recovery workers at the WTC site.

For eight months, hundreds of volunteers worked 12 hour shifts around the clock, serving meals, making beds, counseling and praying with fire fighters, construction workers, police and others. Massage therapists, chiropractors, podiatrists and musicians also tended to their needs.

20 September 2001, Irish Times, "'Little church that could' was spiritual oasis in business world," pg. 8:
A church in the shadow of the World Trade Centre was crushed. Conor O'Clery remembers it well

Visitors to the World Trade Centre before September 11th may have spotted a little white building topped by a cross standing incongruously in a car-park beside the south tower. It had a sign on the white-washed wall saying: "Please no graffiti. This is a church".

I pushed open the tiny wooden doors once and found myself in a sanctuary of gilded icons, ornate crucibles and flickering candles. A Greek Orthodox priest was chanting the liturgy for a congregation of five. For decades the 35 ft-high, 22 ft-wide and 56 ft-deep church of St Nicholas stood as a spiritual counterpoint to the world of global finance which overshadowed it.

The minuscule place of worship defied developers ever since it was converted from a residence to a church in 1922 to serve a Greek immigrant community. Bankers and brokers seeking spiritual retreat from the frenetic pace of the financial industry often visited for a few moments' reflection before returning to the twin towers nearby.

St Nicholas's church is no more. On Tuesday of last week it was obliterated when the south tower collapsed. The pastor, Father Romas, arrived on Wednesday to find it smashed by the weight of the falling skyscraper. The 90 or so regular worshippers are all apparently safe as the church was unoccupied other than by a parishioner, Mr Bill Tarazonas, who was there to admit an electrician.
St Paul's on Broadway and Fulton, a British-built church dating back to 1766, also survived.

Father Romas hopes to get a permit from New York to rebuild St Nicholas but his immediate concern is finding the 16th-and 18th-century relics of Saints Nicholas, Katherine and Savvas which were on the top floor. The congregation of St Nicholas plans to launch an appeal among Greeks worldwide. The building was insured for $1 million but the reconstruction will cost much more - certainly more than the $25,000 it took to create "the little church that could" eight decades ago.

America's New War: Rain Makes Recovery Effort More Difficult in New York; Greek Orthodox Church in New York Destroyed Along with Towers
Aaron Brown, Martin Savidge, Jason Bellini, Brian Palmer
24 September 2001
CNN: Live Today
PETER DRAKOULIAS, ST. NICHOLAS PARISHIONER: St. Nicholas has been described as the little church that could, if you will. It is 22 feet wide, as I said, 55 feet long, 35 feet high. And when it sat against the towers of the World Trade Center and buildings around it, it was an odd site, and you wondered why it could survive.

LORRAINE ROMAS, WIFE OF PASTOR: And the beautiful part of it was, it reminded everybody of the little village churches in Greece.

PALMER: The building didn't survive, but the church did.

FR. JOHN ROMAS, ST. NICHOLAS PASTOR: The building doesn't make the difference. It's the faith.

PALMER: Shared faith makes this story one church the story of two. Father Romas and his congregation welcomed by Father Evangelis Karunas (ph) and the people of St. Spirido (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christians, and Christians generally help. We can pray for the victims in and all persons affected by the tragedy of the disaster of New York and Washington D.C.

PALMER: And Greek Orthodox churches around the world have already donated thousands of dollars to the St. Nicholas reconstruction fund. Caretaker Bill Tarazonas was inside St. Nicholas when the first and second planes hit the Trade Center towers.

BILL TARAZONAS, ST. NICHOLAS CARETAKER: It's hard, but we will rebuild again, and we'll be back again as one family as we used to be.

17 October 2001, The Christian Century, "The little chapel that could," pg. 8:
Directly across the street from what was the World Trade Center complex in lower Manhattan still stands-against all odds-St. Paul's Chapel. Not only did the historic Episcopal chapel survive the collapse of two burning 110-story buildings-without so much as a broken window-the small building served as a godsend refreshment stand for police, firefighters and volunteers on the site.

"The portico of the chapel has two huge charcoal grills where Episcopal volunteers stand flipping hamburgers and hand them out to workers for whom a hot meal is the ultimate luxury," wrote Mary Donovan for Episcopal News Service in an account dated September 28. She had visited the devastation scene with husband-bishop Herbert Donovan.

27 October 2001, Buffalo News, "After Sept. 11, a need to offer spiritual comfort and support" by Paula Voell, D1
While riding the New York subway, she met an Episcopalian priest from St. Paul's Chapel, nicknamed "The Little Church That Could" because it survived when little else did.
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBuildings/Housing/Parks • Sunday, September 11, 2005 • Permalink

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