In 1910 the cornerstone was laid and Rev. J. W. Gresham was chosen as the first dean, a beloved pastor for nearly thirty years. Lewis Hobart, Hare’s local agent, was made official architect and redesigned the cathedral.
The church is prominently featured in the Clint Eastwood movies Dirty Harry (the Church, and nearby Dante Building, are the scene of sniper attacks by the "Scorpio Killer") and The Dead Pool. Scenes from Cecil B. DeMille's 1923 version of The Ten Commandments were filmed at the church while it was under construction. Also featured in What's Up, Doc? in which Judy Maxwell, portrayed by Barbra Streisand and Dr. Howard Bannister, portrayed by Ryan O'Neal borrowed a Volkswagen Beetle during a car chase. Parts of Sister Act 2 were also filmed here.
Emanu-El merged with Temple Beth-El in New York, New York on April 11, 1927, and both are considered co-equal parents of the current Emanu-El. In 1929, the congregation moved to its present location at 65th Street and Fifth Avenue, where the Temple building was constructed to designs of Robert D. Kohn on the former site of the Mrs. William B. Astor House.
The Eldridge Street Synagogue is one of the first synagogues erected in the United States by Eastern European Jews (Ashkenazim). One of the founders was Rabbi Eliahu the Blessed (Borok), formerly the Head Rabbi of St. Petersburg, Russia. It opened at 12 Eldridge Street in New York's Lower East Side in 1887 serving Congregation Kahal Adath Jeshurun.