Syria Mosque

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Syria Mosque was a 3,700-seat [1] performance venue located in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Constructed in 1911 and dedicated on October 26, 1916,[2] the building was originally built as a "mystical" shrine for the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (the Shriners) and designed by Huehl, Schmidt & Holmes architectural firm of Chicago.[3] It was recognized as one of the best examples of "exotic revival architecture".[4]

Photo of Syria Mosque taken ca 1913-1920 by Edward J. Shourek. The Syria Mosque was the birthplace of network television.[5]

Located at 4223 Bigelow Boulevard,[2] it held numerous events over the years, mainly highlighted by concerts of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and numerous internationally recognized music performers, as well as political rallies and speeches. Despite community efforts to have Syria Mosque designated a historic landmark, the building was demolished August 27, 1991.

The Medinah Temple in Chicago (constructed one year after this building by the same firm) is a similar building still in existence (though now converted to retail space).

Concert events

Among the concert events:

Political events

Among the political events:

Birthplace of network television

On January 11, 1949, from 8:30 pm to 11 pm EST, KDKA-TV (then WDTV and part of the DuMont Television Network) began its initial broadcast on its "network" centered in Pittsburgh. The program began with a one-hour local show broadcast from Syria Mosque, then finished with 90 minutes from ABC, CBS, NBC, and DuMont, featuring stars such as Arthur Godfrey, Milton Berle, DuMont host Ted Steele, and many other celebrities.[16] The station also represented a milestone in the television industry, providing the first "network" of a coaxial cable feed that included Pittsburgh and 13 other cities from Boston to St. Louis.[17]


Despite community efforts to have the building designated a historic landmark, the Syria Mosque was torn down on August 27, 1991.[18] The site serves as a parking lot for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Plans were announced that University of Pittsburgh would acquire it from the medical center in 2016.[19]


  1. ^ Syria Mosque
  2. ^ a b Syria Mosque Lost
  3. ^ Internet Archive, Walter C. Kidney, Dressed for the Occasion: On Eclecticism, Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, accessdate 2008-07-25
  4. ^ Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Google News Archive Search
  5. ^ Kwiotek, Vince. "Edward J. Shourek Photograph Collection Finding Aid". Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  6. ^ Jay Warner, On This Day in Black Music History (Hal Leonard Corporation, 2006):125.
  7. ^ a b c d e Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Google News Archive Search
  8. ^
  9. ^ The Pittsburgh Press - Google News Archive Search
  10. ^ Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania · Page 31
  11. ^ The Bangles Live in Pittsburgh MTV 1986 PAL version Part 1 of 5 - YouTube
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Dressler, C. W. (November 3, 1944). "People Cannot Take Chance, Truman Says". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2016-01-29. 
  15. ^ The Pittsburgh Press - Google News Archive Search
  16. ^ DuMont History website by Clarke Ingram
  17. ^ "Eyewitness: 1949 / TV makes Pittsburgh 'A New Promise'". 2010-05-16. Retrieved 2011-03-29. 
  18. ^ Historic Pittsburgh 1991
  19. ^ Schackner, Bill (February 24, 2016). "Pitt to buy former Syria Mosque property from UPMC for $10 million". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved March 5, 2016. 

External links

  • Picture Album
  • Pittsburgh Music History -Lost Temple of Music
  • Resurrecting the Syria Mosque
  • Pittsburgh Post Gazette retrospective

Coordinates: 40°26′44″N 79°57′19″W / 40.445477°N 79.955149°W / 40.445477; -79.955149

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