First New York YMCA Building

at 52 East 23rd Street and 4th Avenue


The New York YMCA was founded in 1852 and its first facilities were established in the Stuyvesant Institute building at 659 Broadway. The first New York YMCA building was completed in 1869, at 52 East 23rd Street and Fourth Avenue (now Park Avenue South), and demolished in 1903.

During the first years after the foundation meeting of the New York YMCA, in 1852, the organization operated from several rented premises in Manhattan, then, in November 1865, after the Civil War, the New York YMCA launched a campaign to construct its own building.

In February 1867, the New York YMCA authorized the purchase of land at the southwest corner of 23rd Street and Fourth Avenue (today Park Avenue South) to erect a building to house the first permanent home of the Association. Ground was broken on January 13, 1868. The building was completed in November, 1869, and dedicated on December 2.

The 5-story building was designed in Renaissance style by James Renwick Jr. (1818-1895), the same architect who designed the temples of Grace Church and St. Patrick's Cathedral.

The main entrance was on Twenty-third Street. The total height of the building was 86 feet, including the Mansard roof.

On the second story there were a gymnasium, lecture room, reading room, three parlors, dressing room, and wash room. The lecture room, which extended through the third story, was capable of seating 1640 persons, seats were iron chairs.

On the third story there were a small lecture room, three class rooms, the library, extending through the fourth story, and the entrance to the gallery of the main lecture room.

The fourth and fifth stories were occupied by artists' studios. On the fifth-story there was a picture-gallery, lighted from the roof, for the exhibition of artists' pictures.

In July 1876, the building was visited by Dom Pedro II, Emperor of Brazil.

By 1889, the YMCA building also included a bowling alley and the library contained 32 thousand volumes. There were evening educational classes in writing, arithmetic, bookkeeping, phonography, German, Spanish, French, and vocal music, various entertainments, Bible-classes and prayer-meetings.

Fires in the early 20th century destroyed much of the building

In April 1901, the New York YMCA sold the building. It was demolished in 1903. The 304 Park Avenue South was completed on the site in 1904.



Historic Hotels


First YMCA



West Side of Fourth Avenue (now Park Avenue South), from 22nd Street to 23rd Street, about 1881. Showing the Fourth Avenue Presbyterian Church and the first New York Y.M.C.A. building at 23rd St. Source: J. Clarence Davies Street Views, Museum of the City of New York. The church was demolished in 1910 and the 8-story building on the right (42 E 23rd St.) still stands.


NY Hotels


West Side YMCA


Fourth Avenue NY






National Academy of Design


4th Avenue NY

Weeks before its opening.


Park Avenue South


4th Avenue YMCA NY


Historic Hotels


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First New York YMCA Building