New York City

by | Jun. 11, 2007


New York City is rich in both American and Church history. It served as the nation's first capital and was the site of the first U.S. bank. Joseph Smith, Parley P. Pratt, Newel K. Whitney, and other early Church leaders visited the city to preach the gospel and conduct Church business. And it was the point of entry for nearly 50,000 emigrant Saints who came to America to join the pioneers on their journey to the west.

New York City played a significant role in the history of the Church, beginning in 1828 when Martin Harris visited scholars there in an attempt to authenticate the writings of the gold plates. The city was introduced to the gospel when Parley P. Pratt arrived as a missionary in 1837. He published 4,000 copies of the pamphlet Voice of Warning and spent six months preaching with little success. He wrote, "Of all the places in which the English language is spoken, I found the City of New York to be the most difficult as to access to the minds or attention of the people." Discouraged, he was ready to leave the city when he received a revelation to stay. In less than a month, Pratt and his companion, Elijah Fordham, began baptizing on almost a daily basis, and fifteen meeting places were established--all filled beyond capacity.

In 1840 the first company of emigrant Latter-day Saints arrived from Liverpool, England. Between 1840 and 1890, an estimated 50,000 European members would pass through New York City before continuing on to the west. On February 4, 1846, The Brooklyn sailed from New York with 235 Latter-day Saints destined for California.

New York City hosted the 1964-1965 World's Fair, and the Church's pavilion there generated great interest in the gospel. Missionaries received nearly one million referrals, and there was a dramatic increase in Church membership in the years that followed. In 1975, President Spencer W. Kimball dedicated the site for a multi-floor building with a new visitors' center, stake center, genealogical library, and headquarters for the New York New York City Mission. In 2002, President Gordon B. Hinckley announced plans to build a temple in the same facility. More than 53,000 people attended the open house of the Manhattan New York Temple, and President Hinckley dedicated it as the 119th temple on June 13, 2004.

Four Places You Must See in New York City

A visit to the Manhattan New York Temple, along with three of the most popular sites in the city, is sure to make your trip unforgettable.

The Manhattan New York Temple

The Manhattan New York Temple is nestled in the heart of the Big Apple and serves as a tranquil haven from the hectic city. Located across the street from the Lincoln Center, the temple glistens among office buildings, shops, and restaurants. It was cleverly adapted from an existing Church facility, with major renovations to provide a soundproof environment for temple patrons.

Ellis Island Immigration Museum

From 1892 to 1954, more than twelve million immigrants came to America through Ellis Island in search of freedom and economic opportunity. Today, the Ellis Island Immigration Museum honors the ancestors of more than forty percent of America's population who can trace their roots through this port of entry. Here you can explore three floors of audio/visual displays and exhibits. Check out Island of Hope, Island of Tears, a free movie that features stories from immigrants who came through Ellis Island.

Ground Zero

On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, the world watched in horror as two hijacked airplanes crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Nearly 3,000 people died as a result of the events of this tragic day, and Ground Zero sits where the magnificent towers once stood. Pay your respects to those that died at the Wall of Heroes, see the excavated site, and view dramatic photos. Should you choose to visit, be sure to realize that many people consider Ground Zero to be sacred ground.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the world's largest museums and an art lover's paradise. Here you can admire more than two million works of art from the far reaches of the globe. This colossal museum boasts more than 3,000 European paintings and has extensive holdings of Egyptian, African, Asian, Byzantine, Medieval, Greek, Roman, and Islamic art. You can also view ancient weapons and armor, musical instruments, lavish costumes, stunning photographs, and several works of modern art.

Times Square and Broadway

Times Square is New York's most famous intersection. Also known as the Crossroads of the World, it serves as the home of the famous New York Times news ticker and the location for the America's biggest New Year's Eve party. Packed with shops, restaurants, billboards, and bright lights, it is an astounding sight that can put your senses into maximum overdrive.

Nearby Broadway offers dozens of incredible performances, including The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Stomp, The Color Purple, and many, many more. For discount tickets to a variety of shows, stop by the TKTS booth at Times Square or the one located downtown at the Resnick-Prudential Building. You can purchase tickets for same-day performances--typically at twenty-five or fifty percent off the original price--but you can only pay with cash or travelers checks.

Central Park

Central Park serves as an urban oasis with lush green lawns, lakes, meadows, and thirty stone-and-iron bridges and arches. In it you'll discover the beautiful Bethesda Fountain, the nineteenth-century Belvedere Castle, and several peaceful gardens. The park is also filled with kid-friendly attractions, including twenty-one playgrounds, a carousel, a marionette theater, and a zoo with penguins, seals, and monkeys.


There are several amazing museums scattered throughout New York City. If you didn't get your fill of art at the Met, spend some time at the Museum of Modern Art or the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. For a journey through history, visit the Museum of Jewish Heritage--A Living Memorial to the Holocaust or the National Museum of the American Indian. The American Museum of Natural History is another star attraction with gigantic dinosaur skeletons and a four-story planetarium.

Historic Landmarks

No visit to the Big Apple would be complete without seeing the Statue of Liberty. A gift from France on America's centennial, it has stood as a beacon of freedom for 131 years. If you're not up for the crowds and the long lines, opt for a ride on the Staten Island Ferry instead. You'll have a great view and, best of all, it's free.

The Empire State Building is another must-see for many visitors. The structure has been featured in hundreds of films, making it the most well-known skyscraper in the world. Visit the eighty-sixth floor observatory during the day for a spectacular view. Or wait until nightfall for a dazzling display of city lights.

Family-Friendly Broadway Shows

While New York if brimming with magnificent Broadway productions, many of them are not suitable for children. Thanks primarily to Disney, however, the whole family can have the experience of attending an amazing show. These productions are sure to be hits with family members of all ages:

Beauty and the Beast

This popular musical has charmed more than twenty million people worldwide and has graced Broadway for more than twelve years. Adapted from Disney's Academy Award-winning animated film, it is packed with lavish costumes, eye-popping special effects, and a classic love story. Check out or call 1-800-755-4000. But hurry! The final performance is July 29.

Mary Poppins

Based on Disney's Academy Award-winning film, this show is filled with toe-tapping, high-flying song-and-dance routines. Relive the magic of the world's most beloved nanny, dance on the rooftops of London, or go fly a kite. For more information visit or call 1-800-755-4000.


Explore Africa's lush, mysterious jungle in this adventure based on Disney's hit animated film. Filled with the amazing music and lyrics of seven-time Grammy Award winner Phil Collins, this show is guaranteed not to disappoint. Go to or call 1-800-755-4000.

The Lion King

You'll be transported to the exotic African savanna in this powerful production filled with brilliant puppetry and soulful music. With what has been described as the most incredible opening in theater history, you'll want to make sure you arrive on time! Visit or call 1-800-755-4000 to get one of the hottest tickets in town.


Discover the untold story of the witches of Oz in this enchanting prequel to The Wizard of Oz. You'll be captivated by the dazzling scenery, spellbinding costumes, and spectacular music. Not recommended for children under eight. Children under four will not be admitted. Check it out at or call 1-800-755-4000.

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