2. Harlem Branch YMCA

Harlem YMCA WPA Mural

The Harlem Branch of the Y.M.C.A. was constructed between 1931 and 1932 and was designed for African Americans, since the Y.M.C.A. maintained racially segregated branches until 1946. The building served as a focal point for members of the community. Langston Hughes began as a feature editor on the staff of the Harlem Y’s newsletter and everyone from Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. to George Washington Carver, Jackie Robinson, Paul Robeson, and Earth Kitt either stayed or performed at the Harlem YMCA.

The immense building was designed to accommodate 4000 men and 1000 boys with “a kitchen and cafeteria, dining rooms, club rooms, a music/hobby room, and a theater in the basement; separate social rooms for boys and men, a chapel, a billiard room, a ‘log cabin room,’” a swimming pool, showers, lockers, a banquet hall, two gymnasiums, a handball court and 254 dormitory rooms.

The Harlem YMCA received two listings in the Spring 1956 Edition of The Negro Travelers’ Green Book, for the Young Men’s Christian Association at 180 West 135th Street and Young Women’s Christian Association at 175 West 137th Street.

Next, discover a Forgotten Harlem Renaissance Mural Inside the Harlem YMCA