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Miscellaneous New York YMCA branch photographs

Identifier: Y.GNY.22


The collection of New York YMCA branch photographs includes images from small or short-lived branches as well as small collections from larger branches of the New York YMCA. There are numerous images of YMCA buildings, programs and activities. Most of the photographs are professional, black and white images.


  • 1880s-1990s
  • Majority of material found within ( 1920s-1970s)


Language of Materials


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.


The YMCA of Greater New York is the amalgamation of several local associations in what later become the five boroughs of New York City. Shortly after the founding of the New York association in 1852, other independed associations were formed in Brooklyn, Williamsburg, Staten Island, Greenpoint, New Utrecht, Harlem, Grand Street and Varick Street -- all before 1869. In the years that followed, more YMCAs were formed as branches of the parent organizations of New York and Brooklyn. In addition, independent YMCA organizations merged with the New York or Brooklyn associations to become branches; both the New York and Brooklyn associations adopted the "metropolitan" model of organization by 1896. The growth of the YMCA in New York can be seen in the opening and closing of branches that continued to occur into the 21st century. Just as the New York Y added or changed programs to meet the needs of the community, the organization added, moved and closed branches whenever it felt that the mission and goals of the YMCA were best served by change.

As a result, some YMCA branches in New York were short-lived, primarily because their initial promise was not borne out by membership and program participation. Other YMCA branches were victims of changing demographics. For example, the original Harlem branch did not serve African-Americans in the 19th century; that role was performed by the "Colored Men's" branch located 60 blocks to the south. Harlem became an African-American neighborhood in the 20th century, and the YMCA responded to the change by opening a new branch and closing the original Harlem branch. Services formerly provided by the old Harlem branch were subsequently carried out by the Uptown branch.

In addition to serving neighborhoods throughout New York, the YMCA established highly specialized branches. These included railroad branches for railroad men, branches for people of specific ethnicity or nationality, branches for college students and branches for members of the armed services. When the need for branches such as these lessened, the Y did not hesitate to move its resources to address current, rather than past, concerns. For example, after WWII, the Y reduced or eliminated programs and branches for servicemen. As the number of railroad workers declined, the special branches catering to railroad employees were closed.

The ability of the YMCA to adapt to changing needs and circumstances is well illustrated by the history of its branches.

Biographical / Historical

Information taken from History of the Brooklyn and Queens Young Men's Christian Association 1853-1949by E. Clark Worman (1952), The YMCA at 150: A history of the YMCA of greater New York, 1852-2002by Pamela Bayless (2002), An event on Mercer Streetby Terry Donoghue (1951) and from the collection.


4 Cubic Feet (10 boxes)


Photographs of YMCA of Greater New York branches, buildings and activities.


These documents are organized into the following sections:

Manhattan branches

Bronx branches.

Brooklyn branches.

Queens branches.

Staten Island branches.

Physical Location

See Detailed Description section for box listing.

Note on Language in the Collection and this Guide

Please note that some of the descriptive language found in this collection guide reflects and re-uses the words and ideas of the people and organizations that created the material. Historical records represent the opinions and actions of their creators and the society in which they were produced. This historical language was retained in cases where we believe it provides important context about the materials, is a Library of Congress Subject Heading, or is the official title of an item, organization, or event. As such, please be aware that this material and the guide describing it contains racial and other language and/or imagery that is outdated, offensive and/or harmful.

Processing Information:

Processed by: Louise Merriam, May 2009.

Catalog Record ID number: 5464341

An Inventory of Miscellaneous Branch Photographs
Finding aid prepared by Louise Merriam.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2021-12-27: Language was edited slightly to clarify that the outdated term "Colored" is being quoted from the original sources and included here for historical reasons. A content warning note was also added regarding language that was retained and may be found in the collection material.

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Kautz Family YMCA Archives Collecting Area