Posts Tagged ‘St. Gregory Illuminator Cathedral’

When Murray Hill was “Little Armenia”

April 30, 2012

Little Syria, Little Hungary, the Jewish Quarter: Manhattan really used to be a collection of tight ethnic enclaves.

From the 1930s through the 1960s, Lexington Avenue below 34th Street was Little Armenia, a mostly forgotten neighborhood of immigrant rug merchants, grocers, and other small business owners.

“On First, Second, Third, and Lexington Avenues, a small Armenian community was established,” writes Paul Sagsoorian in the Armenian cultural magazine Ararat.

“An Armenian church was obtained in 1915. It was named Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral, after the patron saint of the Armenians.”

The cathedral is still there, on East 27th Street between Second and Third Avenues.

But few other traces of the old neighborhood remain. There’s Kalustyan’s grocery-turned-spice shop on 28th Street, a juncture now known as Curry Hill thanks to all the Indian restaurants and food stores there.

Huge, gold-domed St. Vartan Cathedral still draws a crowd at Second Avenue and 34th Street, and a park up the block on 35th Street bears the name of St. Vartan, the fifth century Armenian Christian martyr.