In the mid-1920s, under the leadership of then President Louis B. Marshall, a momentous decision was made to consolidate Temple Emanu-El with Temple Beth-El and to relocate northward from Emanu-El's previous home, a grand Moorish structure on Fifth Avenue and 43rd Street that had been in use since 1868. The newly consolidated congregations acquired the site of the former Astor Mansion on Fifth Avenue between 65th and 66th streets and began construction in 1927, with work completed by the autumn of 1929. Sadly, the first religious service conducted in the new building was the funeral of Louis B. Marshall.

The new Temple building was the crowning achievement of the descendants of those German-Jewish immigrants who first formed Emanu-El in 1845. During the ensuing decades, this small community of worshipers transformed itself into a great Reform Jewish congregation that, confident in itself and in the promise of this city and this nation, envisioned and erected an iconic example of a distinctly American synagogue architecture. Today, more than 75 years after Temple Emanu-El's doors first were opened to welcome worshipers, the grand edifice that is Temple Emanu-El continues to occupy a very special place physically in the heart of New York City and emotionally and spiritually in the hearts of its members.