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

An Inventory of Its Photographs

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


Creator: YMCA of Greater New York. West Side Branch.
Title: West Side YMCA photographs.
Date: 1930s-1990s.
Collection Number: Y.GNY.0014-1
Abstract: Collected photographs, mostly black and white, from the West Side Branch of the YMCA of Greater New York. Now located on West 63rd Street, the West Side YMCA has operated a residential program from its opening in 1896 on West 57th Street. Many of the images were taken by commercial photographers such as Herbert-Spencer, Inc., Roy Pinney, Samuel H. Gottsho, Brown Brothers, D. Richard Statile and others.
Quantity: 2.5 cubic feet (5 boxes)
Location: See Detailed Description section for box listing.


The West Side branch of the YMCA of Greater New York began in November 1896 on 57th Street in a building known as "McBurney's Folly" because its vast size and scope were thought to be far greater than would ever be needed in New York City. It was also seen as too remote from the center of the city to be attractive. Despite its nickname, the building soon became an important influence in subsequent YMCA building design. 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. Later to be a college preparatory school known as the McBurney School, it is 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 upper-middle class in Riverdale's Fieldston section in the Bronx and in Westchester County suburbs, the structure was the world's largest YMCA building. With fourteen stories and 600 guest rooms, the West Side Y was designed around a medieval theme, with polychrome tile, battlements and irregular balconies spaced to resemble a 12th century Italian fortified town. Baum's appointment as architect may have been a result of his success with New York Association president Cleveland E. Dodge's house in Riverdale, which he designed in 1924.

The McBurney School moved and eventually closed, 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)


The West Side YMCA photos focus on the interior and exterior of the building on West 63rd Street in New York City. There are also many photographs of the athletic programs operated by the West Side YMCA, including swimming, wrestling and gymnastics. Notables appearing in the collection include photos of appearances made by future president Richard Nixon, TV personalities Mike Wallace and Geraldo Rivera, actor Burgess Meredith, and boxer Rocky Marciano.


These documents are organized into the following sections:
Programs and Events.
Staff and Membership.


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 Photographs. YMCA of Greater New York. Kautz Family YMCA Archives. University of Minnesota.
See the Chicago Manual of Style for additional examples.
Processing Information:
Processed by: Louise Merriam, October 2007.
Catalog Record ID number: 5110692


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


Box 52 Miscellaneous sports, 1954-1964.
Images include 1953-1954 athletic council and rough proofs of handball champs and basketball team photos from 1964.
Gymnastics, 1923, 1942, 1970s.
Pyramids, parallel bars, tumbling and mat, team photos, rings,
Box 61 Athletics for women, 1970s.
Women on the running track, weight training for women.
Gymnastics demonstration by Jr. Leaders in Central Park, 1960s.
"How to be fit", 1960s.
Getting weighed, balance beam, lung capacity and pictures of people browsing information tables for this major fitness program.
Lynn Burke and the "Learn to Swim" program, 1960s.
Olympic medal winner Lynn Burke was a spokesperson and volunteer swim teacher for the New York YMCA. She promoted the Learn to Swim program at the West Side YMCA.
Box 62 Aquatics, 1930s-1970s. 4 folders.
Images include water polo, two women in swimsuits, swimming lessons, group swimming, young adult swim, actor Burgess Meredith leading "Learn to Swim" sessions, getting ready to dive in, nude swimming, learning to kick, Jerry Kouveras, lifesaving, swimming demonstration for parents, racing and platform diving.
Basketball, 1930s-1940s.
Team photos, game photos.
Baseball teams, 1930s.
Leader's Club, 1930s-1940s. 3 folders.
Includes portraits of Leader's Club members, group photos and gymnastics shows.
Gymnastic, 1950s-1960s. 4 folders.
Includes practice and performance of events such as pyramids, trampoline, parallel bars, rings, conditioning training, freestyle, uneven parallel bars, vault, tumbling, women's gymnastics, balance beam.
Handball, 1900s-1940s.
Includes handball on the roof, team dance, team photos, trophy.
Miscellaneous athletics, 1900-1950s.
Images include rowing machines, ping pong, punching bag, stretching, squash, volleyball, martial arts, tennis, trophy, fencing, boxing, stationary bike, track team, sunbathing on the roof, wrestling, horseback riding, sailing, scuba diving, calisthenics.
Weight training, 1940s.
Images include weight lifting, body building and class settings.
Box 64 Wrestling:
National A.A.U. (Amateur Athletic Union) championship, 1941.
Individual wrestlers, 19420s-1940s. 2 folders.
Includes photo of Murray Edelman, Bill Panzen, Al Crawford, Reinhold Metzger, Jim LeRoc, Al McConnell, Albert Ashcroft, Harry Lanzi, Lowell Lang, Doug Lee, Alan Israel, John Telesmanich, and Dave Cropp.
Matches and award ceremonies, 1920s-1940s.
Matches and team photos, 1920s-1940s. 4 folders.
Includes match between Edelman and Jennings, National Youth Wrestling Championship award ceremony - 1950, 1949 team photo, 1933-34 team photo, 1931 team photo, 1932-33 team photo, poster from the A.A.U. national championships of 1943.
Snapshots of wrestlers and matches, 1920s-1940s.
Awards ceremonies, 1950.
Primarily from National Youth Wrestling Championship of 1950.
Box 65 Sports groups, 1880s-1920s.
Includes images of fencing, gymnastics, and youth sports.


Box 52 Exteriors:
Old West Side YMCA building, 1920s.
Advertisement, "Where Leisure Means Personal Development"circa 1920.
Architectural drawings of YMCA buildings, 1900-1920.
Includes renderings of German Branch and Boys' Building.
57th Street building exteriors, 1896-1930.
63rd-64th Street building exteriors,1930-1960s.
Other YMCA buildings, 1894.
Includes 1894 clipping from Leslie's Weekly of several YMCA buildings on the occasion of the YMCA's semi-centennial; also includes steel engraving from Harper's Weekly, 1886.
Street scenes, 1930s, 1970s.
Boys with car, protesters, outside dance instruction on West 64th Street.
Box 65 Buildings and people, 1880s-1920s.
Includes photos of boys, sailors, and new citizens posed before the building. Also includes images of the Majestic Theater
Map, 1920s.
Hand-drawn map showing the location of the West Side YMCA, Central Park West, and Central Park South.
Box 63 Interiors:
Old West Side YMCA interiors, 1900-1920s. 2 folders.
Images include possible photo of West Side Lunch Club, employment office, reading room, motion picture class, lobby, dormitory room with Exeter and Harvard pillows, getting a physical, annual dinner with Board of Directors and secretaries and their wives, library, dining room, afternoon social, empty auditorium, lunch counter.
Interiors, 1930s-1950s. 4 folders.
Photos of Marine looking at bulletin board in lobby, teens at desk before a World Youth Fund poster, chemists' club, sailor getting his picture taken, working on a motor, working on a plane engine, watching early television, working in air conditioning shop, mixing chemicals, Dennis James of CBS and children, serviceman writing a letter, dance, relaxing in the lounge, draftee receiving coffee and donuts, sailors making donations, Mike Wallace of CBS News filming in the lobby, serving coffee in the lobby, WWI era scene in lobby with soldiers, first aid class, Coast Guard at YMCA event, Knights of the Round table and newspaper drive, Knights of the Round table and Rocky Marciano, arts and crafts under the direction of Michael Adrian, knighting incoming King Arthur, playing cards, sign painting class, servicemen and dates, sunbathing on the roof, chiropody services, student council meeting, gift-wrapping, lunch counter, War Services booth, palm reading, dormitory room.
Interiors with no people, 1930s-1950s. 2 folders.
Pool room, cafeteria door, kitchen, dormitory room, billiard room, gym, cafeteria, dining room, board room, lobby and elevator bank, writing room, archway, ornamental wall in swimming pool, Kingsley chapel and altar, reading room, doorway of cafeteria, shower room, TV room, window and door details, shop room, steam room, executive secretary's suite.
Trade school interiors, 1920s-1940s.
Photos include bricklaying, making false teeth, auto repair, women in auto repair class, refrigerator repair, batteries, radio.
Box 65 Interiors, including bathrooms, showers, and steam room, 1880s-1910s.
Swimming pool, 1890s-1920s.
Includes images of people swimming as well as an empty pool.
Parlors and dormitory room, 1880s-1890s.
Includes Christmas decorations and western-themed bedroom.

Programs and Events

Box 52 Factory hymn sing, circa 1900.
Box 61 Sound of Music benefit, 1960.
Part of the Million Dollar Youth Program of the YMCA of Greater New York, this fund-raiser helped furnish funds for the West Side Y's Accent on Youth program.
Youth programs, 1960s.
Images include boys playing ping pong, boys with bat and glove, a group photo of high school students, gymnastics instruction, getting reading for an Indian ceremony, and standing before a poster: "Building Boys is Better than Mending Men".
Theater production, 1970.
Publicity photos and press release about West Side YMCA's production of La Traviata in the Little Theater. The opera starred Carol Joy, Angelo Marenzi and Edgar Mastin and was directed by Jean Thorp and Mady Grosz.
Box 63 Ceremonies, 1929.
Cornerstone laying in 1929. Images of Honorable Charles H. Tuttle, U.S. Attorney for the Southern district of New York and the craftsmen involved in the building of the West Side YMCA.
Performers and performances, 1903-1970s.
Images include a singer in drag, a minstrel show, the Upside Down Wonder, The Duponts: Shophisticates of Balance, Irvin E. Bedard, Chicago Boys Club, human pyramid, Dell Doan, Master of Equilibrium, riding a unicycle, Carney sisters, Roth & Shay (Joseph Rothman and Gus Schaefer), Johnny Hays, Jerri Dawn - Magical Missteries, Madeline Coale (dancing instructor)
San Juan Boys Club, 1957.
Playing pool, punching bag, playing in the band, basketball, display.
Preview night, 1980.
Judo demonstration, information table, belly dancing, arts and crafts.
E. J. Simonds, 1900-1920s.
E. J. Simonds, a graduate of Yale, entered YMCA work in 1902 and was a Secretary in India, Havana and San Juan. The images include him on a camel in India, the swimming pool at the Havana YMCA, exterior of the Havana Y, audience at a gymnastics demonstration at the Havana Y, the Board of Directors in Havana, Christmas festival for poor children, and a portrait of E. J. Simonds at his desk in Havana.
Programs and events, 1979.
Images of Mazzola Fun Run and of "Geraldo Rivera and A Night of Boxing Nostalgia" at Studio 54. Includes Johnson, WABC TV Eyewitness News correspondent, Bob Ciocher, boxing coach at the Westside YMCA, and Hans Georg Lindner, Executive Director, Westside YMCA, reception after the Mazzola Fun Run at Tavern on the Green, John Roland of WABC-TV.
Miscellaneous programs and events, 1960s-1970s.
Images include future president Richard Nixon, photos of people working in arts and crafts classes, the Morris Morgenstern lounge, and miscellaneous program negatives.
Programs and events, 1910-1920s.
Images include images of a black face minstrel show and a photo of a truck advertising a street meeting.
Programs and events, 1953, 1968, 1979.
Images include: Healthmobile, Indian dancers, Metro Sweepstakes drawing with John Rowland of WABC-TV.
Programs and events, 1910-1920s.
Street meetings, factory workers, musical performances on the shop floor, Americanization of workers, "How to Live" course, hospital ward at Christmas.
Dinners, 1950, 1954, 1979.
Twenty-fifth anniversary dinner, new members dinner, interfaith dinners.
Dances, 1950s.
USO dances, square dancing, pictures of the band.
Soldiers and sailors, 1940s.
Images include sailors in gym, women sewing for soldiers, draftees, West Side honor role.
Youth sports and boy's division, 1920s-1950s.
Knights of the Round Table, watching basketball, head stands, stretching, World Youth Fund, going off the high dive, boys singing, gym class, baseball on the roof, eating watermelon, ping pong, log cabin room, model ship, library display, Joe Black and baseball clinic, horse shoes, pool.
First aid, 1920s.
Demonstrating the treatment of a car accident victim.
Box 65 Group photos, 1890s.
Images include members of the Clinton Commerce Club, a first aid class, the shop man's dinner, fellowship support, employed boy's supper, Victrola concert, and a minstrel show.
Factory meetings, 1880s-1890s.
Includes images of a piano factory, subway tunnel under construction, the 99th Street Interborough Shop.
Bible class, circa 1885.

Staff and Membership

Box 52 Kitchen staff, circa 1910.
Box 62 Miscellaneous groups, 1900-1919, 1996.
Includes membership campaign, Boy's Leaders Club, West Side Parish House groups, staff (1996).
Box 65 Havana, Cuba, circa 1910.
Includes postcards, scenes around Havana, Havana YMCA photos, cutting up the USS Maine. Probably photos associated with E. J. Simonds, Secretary at the Havana YMCA around 1910.
Staff, 1920s-1930s.
Includes portraits of physical director in 57th Street building; Kathleen Holohan, physical director, Eastside YMCA; Pete Boukalis; Johnny Hays; the resident council.
Box 65 Unidentified member groups, 1890s.


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.
Soldiers -- New York (State) -- New York.
Young Men's Christian associations -- Buildings.
Young Men's Christian associations -- New York (State) -- New York.
New York (N.Y.).
Baum, Dwight James, 1886-1939.
YMCA of Greater New York. West Side Branch.
Amateur Athletic Union of the United States.
Types of Documents: