YMCA of Greater New York

The YMCA of Greater New York is a community service organization, the largest YMCA in North America and also New York City’s largest private youth-serving organization. In 2013, the YMCA of Greater New York served more than one half-million New Yorkers, half of them under age 25.[1]

The YMCA of Greater New York is a chapter of the national YMCA-USA.



  • 1844: YMCA is founded in London.
  • 1852: New York Association forms.
  • 1853: Brooklyn Association forms.
  • 1857: New York and Brooklyn YMCAs offer the first gym classes at the YMCA.
  • 1862: Robert Ross McBurney becomes first paid staff member of New York Association.
  • 1869: First “purpose-built” YMCA building opens at Twenty-Third Street and Fourth Avenue, containing a gymnasium to house “physical” work; first YMCA evening high school classes are held in this new building.
  • 1882: Brooklyn Association takes boys on first camping excursion.
  • 1885: New Brooklyn Central Branch on Fulton Street features first indoor pool in a YMCA.
  • 1889: Dr. Luther Gulick, YMCA Physical Director, introduces concept of unity of spirit, mind, and body.
  • 1895: Permanent Council on Educational Work established at New York YMCA; First Association Business Schools and Day Institute for Young Men opens at Twenty-Third Street.
  • 1896: West Side Branch opens on Fifty-Seventh Street, become the first in New York to house a dormitory.
  • 1910: YMCA opens Ellis Island Branch to reach new immigrants at port of entry.
  • 1915: Brooklyn YMCA opens new Central Branch, the “largest YMCA in the world.”
  • 1916: McBurney School a preparatory institution for boys, holds first sessions.
  • 1923: Brooklyn hosts first National YMCA Swimming Championships.
  • 1934: West Side YMCA admits its first woman member.
  • 1943: National Council of YMCAs rules that Associations must open membership to people of all races.
  • 1946: YMCA leader John R. Mott awarded Nobel Peace Prize.
  • 1947: Jackie Robinson becomes first African-American major-league baseball player and signs on as a coach for boys at Harlem YMCA.
  • 1957: New York and Brooklyn and Queens Associations merge as the YMCA of Greater New York.
  • 1962: YMCA appoints first executive for health and fitness.
  • 1964: Harlem is first YMCA residence to house women.
  • 1965: Physical fitness clinics inaugurated; West Side Branch offers nursery program, one of the first YMCA child care initiatives.
  • 1968: Association introduces Youth Fitness program, endorsed by President’s Council.
  • 1971: First New York City Marathon, organized at West Side Y, is staged in Central Park.
  • 1978: The McBurney Branch is featured in the Village People's "YMCA" music video.[3]
  • 1982: New York is “largest YMCA in the world” with 21 branches
  • 1989: YMCA becomes city’s largest non-governmental child care provider.
  • 1991: Junior Knicks, Junior Mets programs launches.
  • 1996: Global Teens sends first groups of Y youth abroad.
  • 2001: YMCA offers emergency assistance following 9/11 attacks and administers aid reaching $2.4 million for families of victims and rescue workers; YMCA also commits volunteers and resources to aid the rescue and recovery effort and the West Side Y provides more than 7,000 room nights to rescue workers.
  • 2004: YMCA launches Pioneering Healthier Communities project.
  • 2006: YMCA celebrates 100 years of group swimming instruction.
  • 2008: Strong Kids Card program launches.
  • 2013: Coney Island YMCA branch opens, with art gym and aquatic center.
  • 2014: Rockaway YMCA branch opens, and houses the largest NYC Y aquatic center to date.


  1. http://www.ymcanyc.org/page/-/YMCA-Annual-Report-2013-Interactive.pdf
  2. The YMCA at 150: A History of the YMCA of Greater New York, Pamela Bayless, 2002, pp. 217-223
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CS9OO0S5w2k


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