6. The Harlem YMCA

Harlem YMCA

Before long, the growing YMCA required more room for counseling and community programming. In 1933 a red-brown brick building with neo-Georgian details was built at t 180 135th Street, directly across the street from the original YMCA. At a time when YMCAs were primarily intended for the use of white men, the building was one of the rare centers constructed for the African American community. One of the nation’s best-equipped YMCAs, it also functioned as a residence and hotel.

African-American author Maria Celeste lived in this building from 1941 to 1946, and it is famous as the home of the writer Claude McKay, a leading figure of the Harlem Renaissance who also resided here from 1941 to 1946. Many other notable Americans have stayed at the YMCA, including Malcolm X, and it features a mural by the prominent Black artist Aaron Douglas titled “The Evolution of Negro Dance.” The building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976 and a New York City Landmark in 1998 for its historical and cultural associations. Today, you can still rent rooms at the “Y” for a reasonable price to immerse yourself in the spirit and history of the local community.