Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

438 East 116th Street
L. J. O’Connor

This Romanesque Revival style church was built for an Italian immigrant congregation, and remains a tangible link to the neighborhood’s Italian heritage. The church is named for the Madonna del Carmine, Protectress of Polla, a town in the province of Salerno that was the hometown of many East Harlem immigrants at the end of the 19th century. Beginning in 1882, the church hosted an annual festival in honor of the Madonna on the street outside the church, with many Italians returning to the neighborhood to celebrate. The event, revived in 2000 after a 29-year hiatus, takes place on the second weekend in August and is held by the Giglio Society of East Harlem, which performs the “Dancing Giglio,” a tradition begun here roughly 125 years ago. The celebration serves an important reminder of East Harlem’s Italian heritage.