Located on 37 West 44th Street, the New York City Yacht Club is a private social and yachting club founded by a prominent New Yorker named John Cox Stevens. Originated on July 30th, 1844, the original purpose of the club was simple: to race sailing yachts. Today, the club is composed of over 3,000 members dedicated to both yacht racing and design. As one of New York’s most elite social clubs, membership to the NYYC is very exclusive which makes photos hard to come by, but we were able to get a look inside the stunning club. 

The club was first started during an outing on Steven’s own yacht Gimcrack with eight friends. On that boat, anchored in New York Harbor, the group developed their idea to form the NYYC. They designated Stevens as commodore, and three days later, announced their launching of a yacht club cruise to Newport, Rhode Island: the beginning of the historical connection between these two cities. In 1845, the NYYC’s first clubhouse was built on land granted by Stevens in Hoboken, NJ, in close proximity to the Hudson River.

The opening of the Gothic-styled clubhouse was followed by the club’s first regatta. This turned into the club’s first tradition of the “Annual Regatta,” occurring every year with exception of a few drastic events in American history: the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I and II. Today, the NYYC is looking on its 163rd Annual Regatta.

A few years after the opening of the NYYC, Stevens and other club members bought the schooner-yacht America. In 1851, they sailed it to the Isle of Wight in the Solent- a hotbed for yachting in England. They entered a free-for-all around the Isle of Wight, of which they won the Royal Yacht Squadron’s “Hundred Guinea Cup,” further solidifying their title’s as founders of the NYYC. The trophy of the race was donated to the NYYC in 1857, renaming it the “America’s Cup.” It was meant to be used as a challenge cup for honorable racing between nations. From this point forward, NYYC boats won 81 of 93 races held at the club, often regarded as the longest winning streak in all sports.

Around 1898, member Commodore J. Pierpont Morgan donated three lots on West 44th Street to build an entirely new clubhouse. Now 116 years old, the building was constructed in the beaux-arts style by Whitney Warren and Charles D. Wetmore. It first opened in 1901, and is most renowned for its Model Room and library. A number of races and traditions followed the establishment of the new clubhouse, including the Disabled World Sailing Championship, the Rolex IMS Offshore World Championship, and the Rolex Transatlantic Challenge. Today, the NYYC remains one of the oldest and most exclusive yacht clubs in the world.

Next, read 10 of NYC’s Oldest Historic Private Clubs and check out Behind the Scenes Look at the Wavertree Ship at South Street Seaport.