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 4400 Bigelow Boulevard,[6] 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[edit]

Among the concert events:

Political events[edit]

Among the political events:

Birthplace of network television[edit]

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.[22] 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.[23]


Despite community efforts to have the building designated a historic landmark, the Syria Mosque was torn down on August 27, 1991.[24] 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.[25]


  1. ^ "Syria Mosque". Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  2. ^ "Syria Mosque Lost". Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  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". Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  5. ^ Kwiotek, Vince. "Edward J. Shourek Photograph Collection Finding Aid". Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  6. ^ ""Syria Mosque - Pittsburgh Music History"". Retrieved 21 Nov 2019.
  7. ^ "Coming to Mosque". The Pittsburgh Courier. January 26, 1946. p. 1. ProQuest 202189809. Miss Carol Brice, young contralto, will appear with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orhcestra at Syria Mosque on Friday and Sunday Nights. Miss Brice returns here by special request of Dr. Fritz Reiner, conductor of the orchestra.
  8. ^ "Coming to Mosque". The Pittsburgh Courier. September 9, 1950. p. 14. ProQuest 202256174. Billy Eckstine, Pittsburgh's own, will star in a concert at the Syria Mosque on Wednesday, Oct. 11. George Shearing and his combo will be featured along with Miles Davis' All-Stars. The concert is sponsored by the Guardsman of Pittsburgh.
  9. ^ "Coming Here". The Pittsburgh Courier. February 3, 1951. p. 22. ProQuest 202271687. Tommy Dorsey, his trombone and his orchestra, featuring Frances Irvin and Johnny Amoroso and vocalists, will step into Syria Mosque, Tuesday, Feb. 27, at 8:30 P.M., along with King Cole and his trio, to play for the Pittsburgh Guardsmen's Melodic Concert.
  10. ^ Jay Warner, On This Day in Black Music History (Hal Leonard Corporation, 2006):125.
  11. ^ a b c d e "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  12. ^ "Bruce Springsteen". Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  13. ^ "The Pittsburgh Press - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  14. ^ "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on June 14, 1985 · Page 31". Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  15. ^ "Yngwie Malmsteen Setlist at Syria Mosque, Pittsburgh, PA, USA".
  16. ^ "Rock Tour Database: Syria Mosque".
  17. ^ edditude09 (24 May 2011). "The Bangles Live in Pittsburgh MTV 1986 PAL version Part 1 of 5". Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 22 March 2018 – via YouTube.
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-10-02. Retrieved 2013-03-18.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^
  20. ^ Dressler, C. W. (November 3, 1944). "People Cannot Take Chance, Truman Says". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2016-01-29.
  21. ^ "The Pittsburgh Press - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  22. ^ Clarke Ingram. "DuMont TV historical website". Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  23. ^ "Eyewitness: 1949 / TV makes Pittsburgh 'A New Promise'". 2010-05-16. Retrieved 2011-03-29.
  24. ^ "Historic Pittsburgh 1991". Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  25. ^ 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[edit]

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