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HISTORICAL - Fire at Central Synagogue, NYC

On Friday afternoon August 28, 1998 a five alarm fire - allegedly started by a construction worker's torch - nearly destroyed Central Synagogue in Midtown Manhattan. For three hours, 250 fire fighters and 45 trucks battled the blaze as clouds of smoke poured from the roof of the Moorish Revival building. Eventually the roof collapsed resulting in additional destruction. In the aftermath of the fire, the sanctuary walls were found to be structurally sound and the wooden ark, which holds the Torah scrolls, though marred, towered over the ruins.

Central Synagogue, built in 1870-72, remains a rare example of the opulent Moorish Revival style in American synagogue architecture. It is a copy of Budapest's Dohany Street Synagogue, and pays homage to the Jewish existence in Moorish Spain. Designated a New York City Landmark in 1966 and a National Historic Landmark in 1975, it is the oldest building in continuous use as a synagogue in the State of New York. AMC Elite provided drying services.