Ukrainian Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
830 N. Franklin Street
Immaculate Conception was the first "mother church" of Ukrainian Catholics in America, and the cathedral is the largest Ukrainian Catholic church in the world. Erected in 1966, the cathedral replaced the Ukrainian congregation's old stone church that had stood there since 1907. The exterior of the cathedral was modeled after the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, and a stone from the tomb of St. Peter the Apostle was incorporated in to the cornerstone. The golden dome measures 106 feet in height and 100 feet in diameter and consists of 22-karat gold fused into hundreds of thousands of one-inch-square Venetian glass tiles. In 2006, workers cleaned away decades of automotive soot and industrial pollution to restore the dome's golden gleam. Ukrainians, like other Eastern European immigrants arriving in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, settled where they worked. As a result there were self-contained clusters of Ukrainians within several of the city's larger "workshop" neighborhoods: Northern Liberties, Port Richmond, Fairmount, Nicetown, Frankford and South Philadelphia. The earliest Ukrainian immigrants settled in Northern Liberties between 6th and 7th Streets, south of Girard Avenue, and Immaculate Conception parish anchored the "Little Ukraine" community. In 1964, many congregants wanted Immaculate Conception to follow it worshippers out to the suburbs, but then-Archbishop Ambrose Senyshyn decided to re-build the cathedral on the site where the church already stood, counting on the city's planned East Poplar Redevelopment Area to rejuvenate the neighborhood. The redevelopment plan never came to fruition, and the Ukrainian Catholic population continued to dwindle, but Immaculate Conception remains the mother church for 22,000 Ukrainian Catholics in Eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, and is the sister parish to St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church (founded 1943), across town at 24th and Poplar in the heart of Fairmount's Ukrainian neighborhood.