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318 Elmer L. Andersen Library, University of Minnesota, 222 21st Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55455

An Inventory of Its Records

Historical Sketch | Contents Summary/Organization | Administrative/Access Info | Contents Details | Related Materials | Indexed Terms/Access Points


Creator: YMCA of Greater New York. West Side Branch.
Title: West Side YMCA records.
Date: 1896-1980s.
Collection Number: Y.GNY.014
Abstract: Collected reports, scrap books, press clippings, printed brochures and cards, minutes and correspondence from the West Side branch of the YMCA of Greater New York.
Quantity: 8 cubic feet (25 boxes)
Location: See Detailed Description section for box listing.


Known as "McBurney's Folly", the West Side branch of the YMCA of Greater New York began in November 1896 on West 57th Street. The building's nickname developed because no one believed that a YMCA of the size and scope of the West Side branch would ever be needed, especially one so far from New York City's population center.

The structure was built on land donated by Cornelius and William H. Vanderbilt and had separate facilities for boys and men, including gyms, swimming pools, and bowling alleys. Although it added a 300 bed residence in 1912, the branch moved to a new location in April of 1930. The new building, between 3-11 West 63rd Street and 6-12 West 64th Street opened near Central Park West, with a capacity for 10,000 members and a cost of $3,250,000. Soon after, an addition was constructed to house the Trade and Technical School of the Educational Department. In the 1950s the Educational Department decided to focus its efforts on developing a college preparatory school, abandoning its other educational work. The McBurney School became the school thought to have been the model for the school attended by Holden Caulfied in The Catcher in the Rye.

Designed by Dwight James Baum, who made his professional reputation building houses for the rich in Riverdale's Fieldston section in the Bronx, Westchester County suburbs and in Florida, the West Side YMCA structure was the world's largest YMCA building. With fourteen stories and 600 guest rooms, the West Side Y boasted a medieval theme, with polychrome tile, battlements and irregular balconies spaced to resemble a 12th century Italian fortified town.

The land on which The McBurney School stood had become increasingly valuable, in part because of its proximity to Lincoln Center. The school closed in 1988 and the YMCA of Greater New York then sold the building and the air rights to a developer who opened a 41-story condominium tower cantilevered over the West Side Y. The YMCA reportedly received $23 million dollars in new facilities and cash payments despite the bitter opposition aroused in the neighborhood by the project.

This branch of the YMCA of Greater New York has a long history of athletic prowess, and its gymnastics, handball and basketball teams have been well-regarded during this branch's 100-plus year history. Like other YMCAs in New York City with residential programs, the West Side YMCA provided a temporary home to a number of future celebrities, including Fred Allen, John Barrymore, Montgomery Clift, Lee J. Cobb, Kirk Douglas, Eddie Duchin, Douglas Fairbanks, Dave Garroway, Bob Hope, Elia Kazan, Jack Kerouac, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dan Rather, Norman Rockwell, Andy Rooney, Robert Penn Warren, Johnny Weismuller, Malcolm X and Tennessee Williams.

(Information taken from The YMCA at 150: A History of the YMCA of Greater New York, 1852-2002 by Pamela Bayless and from websites)


Records of the West Side YMCA consist of minutes of the Board of Managers, Executive Committee and many operational committees and departments such as the Boy's Work Committee, the Physical Department and the Education Deparptment. Also included are annual reports from the period before 1933, program brochures and flyers, press clippings and correspondence. The majority of the material is from the period before the opening of the West 63rd Street building, although there are some items from the 1960s and 1980s.


These documents are organized into the following sections:
Board of Managers.
Committees and Departments.
Miscellaneous Printed Material.


Use of Materials:
This collection is protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright, ownership, and to obtain all the necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials.
Preferred Citation:
[Indicate the cited item and/or series here]. West Side YMCA Records. Kautz Family YMCA Archives. University of Minnesota.
See the Chicago Manual of Style for additional examples.
Processing Information:
Processed by: Louise Merriam, March 2008.
Catalog Record ID number: 5285161


The following section contains a detailed list of the materials in the collection. To request materials, please note the corresponding box number.

Board of Managers

Box 3 Five year strategic plan, 1978.
Architectural research report, 1986.
Drafted by Beyer, Blinder Beele, Architects and Planners. For a proposed residential addition to the 63rd Street building.
Board of Managers minutes, 1930, 1937-1956. 8 folders.
Box 6 Board of Managers minutes, 1957-1974. 8 folders.
Box 7 Board of Managers minutes, 1975-1980. 4 folders.
Box 8 Board of Managers minutes, 1981-1986, 1990-1993. 10 folders.
Box 19 Annual reports, 1897-1923, 1925-1926, 1928, 1930, 1933. 12 folders.
Primarily manscript drafts of annual reports.
Box 22 Board of Managers attendance records, 1942-1962. 5 folders.
Listings of members of the Board of Managers with a summary of the number of meetings attended.
Annual administrative report, 1937.
Box 23 Report of the executive director on significant developments..., 1962.

Committees and Departments

Boys Work:
Box 2 Boys Department program brochures, 1950s.
Box 3 Boys Department, 1954-1955.
Includes material on the Knights of the Round Table program.
Boys Department brochures, circa 1900-1910.
Box 9 Boy's Committee minutes, 1896-1925. 2 bound volumes.
Boys' Work Committee, 1926-1929.
Box 25 50 Years of Achievement: Historical review of work with boys, 1946.
Building Committee:
Box 15 Building Committee plans, 1895, 1928. 2 folders.
Building Committee, boys' dormitory minutes, 1922-1927.
Building Committee scrapbook, 1896-1904.
Education Committee:
Box 10 Education Committee minutes, 1896-1919. 3 disbound volumes.
Box 11 Education Committee minutes, 1924-1928. 2 bound volumes.
Box 12 Education Committee minutes, 1928-1935. 1 bound volume, 1 folder.
Box 18 Education Committee minutes, 1919-1924. 3 minute books, 2 disbound.
Box 1 1939 World's Fair Committee, 1938-1939.
Includes minutes, printed material, correspondence and financial reports of the World's Fair Committee.
Box 2 Board of trustees, 1972.
Includes discussion of investment policy.
Resident council bylaws, 1961.
Box 3 Data handbook for Development Committee, 1984.
House Committee minutes, 1961-1969.
Also includes minutes from Building Committee and Clinton Youth Center Committee.
Box 4 Executive Committee minutes, 1896-1926. 2 bound volumes.
The name of the Executive Committee changed to Business Committee in 1925.
Box 15 Industrial Committee minutes, 1920-1923.
Association orchestra minutes, 1897.
Finance Committee minutes, 1896-1927.
Plan & Scope Committee minutes, 1921-1925.
Committee on work with foreign-born minutes, 1922-1927.
Intermediate Department Committee minutes, 1900-1903.
Emergency Aid Fund Committee minutes, 1906-1912.
Business Committee minutes, 1926-1930.
Young Men's Division Social Committee minutes, 1920-1932.
Box 21 Monthly reports, 1920-1956. 6 folders.
Includes drafts, notes and final copies of monthly and periodic reports of West Side branch operating departments and committees.
Departmental reports, 1934-1952. 19 folders.
Final copies of monthly reports for branch departments.
Box 25 General program council constitution, 1950.
Operational planning committee, 1985.
Physical Department:
Box 13 Physical Department Committee minutes, 1896-1933. 2 bound volumes.
Box 14 Physical Department brochures, 1880s-1910s.
Physical Department news clippings, 1930s.
Physical Department Leaders Club minutes, 1923-1944. 2 folders.
Physical Department scrapbooks, 1896-1920s. 2 folders.
Box 21 Physical Education Department annual report, 1948, 1950.
Religious Work:
Box 16 Religious Work Department printed matter, 1890s-1930s. 2 disbound scrapbooks, 1 folder.
Includes cards and brochures for programs and speakers sponsored by the Religious Work Department.
Box 17 Religious Work Department printed matter, 1900-1920s. 2 disbound scrapbooks, 1 folder.
Includes advertising material for lectures by Anthony Comstock and Booker T. Washington.
Box 20 Religious Work Department committee minutes, 1897-1931. 2 bound volumes.
Box 25 Open air evangelistic meetings report, 1917.


Box 1 Director's correspondence, 1964.
Box 3 Correspondence, 1910-1911.
Exchange of letters regarding the suitability of boxing pictures.
Internal memos, 1971, 1973.
Discussions of zoning and membership rates.
Box 21 Correspondence, 1920-1937.
Includes correspondence and memos about gifts and memorials, the Trade and Technical School, contents of the cornerstone and financial information about bonds and accounts.
Box 23 Correspondence regarding book, Business and the Church, 1927.


Box 1 Anniversaries, 1897-1946. 7 folders.
Includes printed material, programs and correspondence relating to the first, fifth, ninth, fortieth, fiftieth, anniversary for 63rd Street building, and Founder's Day.
Celebrations, 1903-1927.
Thanksgiving Day, 1903; New Year's Day Celebrations, 1906-1908, 1926, 1927;Eight Thousand Membership Celebration, 1917.
Building dedication, 1929.
Includes printed material, programs and correspondence related to the opening of the West Side YMCA building at 5 West 63rd Street in 1929.
Box 2 Building dedication, 1929, 1948.
Newspaper clippings, brochures, invitations, cornerstone contents and material about WWII memorial plaque.
Annual dinners, 1953-1954.
Varsity club banquets, 1940, 1947, 1965.
Flyer for Women, Power and Money program, 1980s.
Box 3 Boys award night, 1965.
Box 25 50th anniversary of branch and building, 1946, 1980.
Little Theater events, 1950s, 1970s.
A night of boxing nostalgia, 1979.
Miscellaneous event programs, 1940s-1950s.
Miscellaneous events, 1980s.
Minstrel show advertising card, 1915.
Metropolitan A.A.U. wrestling championships program, 1930.
Opening of the West Side branch program, 1986.
Ticket for sixth annual celebration, 1903.
Ticket for Carnegie Hall event with addresses by Andrew Carnegie and Lyman J. Gage.

Miscellaneous Printed Material

Box 2 Membership brochures, 1950s.
Members handbooks, 1930s-1960s.
Publicity for total health program, 1986.
Triangle, 1985-1986.
Building RFP, 1989.
Miscelaneous printed material, 1940s.
Includes member survey, dedication of the Kingsley Chapel, membership list.
Newspaper clippings, 1950s, 1966-1967. 3 folders.
Box 3 Association bylaws, 1896.
Program brochures, 1901-1906; 1909-1910.
Program brochures, 1977-1986.
Program brochures, 1897-1923, 1960s.
Includes brochures for summer programs, religious work programs and anti-gambling tract.
Box 3 Annual prospectus,1889-1904. 2 folders.
Architectural Forum, August, 1930.
Reprint of article about the 1929 West Side building.
Printed material, 1960s.
Auto school, 1905-1906, 1910.
The West Side YMCA apparently was the first in the world to sponsor a program for drivers and owners of automobiles. The school opened in 1903 and provided instruction on both driving and caring for automobiles. Included are program brochures for 1905-1906 and 1909-1910.
Box 23 Dormitory News, 1925-1926.
Copy of physical education certificate for John Malinowski, 1935.
Staff biographies, 1966.
Camp brochures, 1962.
Writer's Voice, 1988.
Miscellaneous printed material, 1920s-1990s.6 folders.
General program brochures and marketing material.
Printed information about branch building,1924, 1962, 1982. 3 folders.
Includes building plans (1924), Renovation and Redevelopment Feasability Study (1982), and Master Survey Study (1962).
Project Next, 1962.
A planning project focused on identifying ways the West Side branch could benefit from the nearby development of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and the hoped-for revitalization of the area.
Box 24 Building addition, 1987. 4 folders.
Press clippings, press releases and publicity packets regarding addition to branch building.
Proposed new building, 1895. 1 bound pamphlet and unbound copies; 3 folders.
Sam Freeman runs across USA, 1987.
Sam Freeman, who trained at the West Side branch of the YMCA, ran across the United States at age 67. File includes photos and press releases.


Box 2 Adult education program brochures, 1976-1980.
The great indoors program schedules, 1980s.
Cardiovascular fitness, 1978.
Center for the arts, 1988.
Youth programs, 1960s.
Miscellaneous program brochures, 1940s-1950s.
Veterans services program brochures, 1940s.
Visits made to the West Side YMCA, 1979.
A outside evaluation of the cardiovasular health program at the West Side branch.
Box 25 Clinton Youth Center, 1960s-1970s. 4 folders.
Youth leaders club, 1960s.


See also the photographs of the West Side branch of the YMCA of Greater New York, separately catalogued at the Kautz Family YMCA Archives. >> Go to the inventory


This collection is indexed under the following headings in the catalog of the University of Minnesota Libraries. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons or places should search the catalog using these headings.
Vocational training centers.
Young Men's Christian associations -- Buildings.
Young Men's Christian associations -- New York (State) -- New York.
New York (N.Y.).
YMCA of Greater New York. West Side Branch.
West Side YMCA Auto School (New York, N.Y.).
West Side YMCA Trade and Technical School (New York, N.Y.).
McBurney School (New York, N.Y.).