For anyone planning a visit in the area near Grand Central Station in Manhattan here is an architectural treasure worth checking out: the New York Yacht Club at 37 West 44th Street.
Wikipedia describes the building in a nutshell:
"Its primary clubhouse is a six-storied Beaux-Arts landmark with a nautical-themed limestone facade, located at 37 West 44th Street in midtown Manhattan. Opened in 1901, it was designed by Warren and Wetmore (1898), architects of the exterior of Grand Central Terminal. The centerpiece of the clubhouse is the "Model Room," which contains a magnificent collection of full and half hull models including a scale model history of all New York Yacht Club America's Cup challenges. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987."
I have some shots of the club taken this summer and also from March of this year:
The plaque shown below identifies the building's inclusion as an official New York City Landmark. In addition, the building is included in the National Register of Historic Places. The photo was taken with the fish-eye lens which distorted the building:
The exterior more than hints at the ornate interior which is shown below. One of the most dramatic spaces in the building is the Model Room shown in the photos following the lobby pic:
My family has had connections with the club starting back in June, 1899 when my great-grandfather became a member and up to 1978 when my paternal grandfather passed on and we heard from the club that he had been the longest running member for that time period ending in the late '70s.
Wikipedia lists the following prominent members that includes Bernie Madoff who has since resigned. Also of note, F.D.R. and Walter Cronkite who surely are among the more admired of the individuals who have gained membership in the club.
- Astor, John Jacob
- Astor, Vincent
- Baker, George F.
- Belmont, August
- Bennett Jr., James Gordon
- Bloomberg, Michael
- Bourne, Frederick Gilbert
- Buckley, William F.
- Conn, Robert H., Assistant Secretary of the Navy
- Connor, Dennis
- Cronan, William P., 19th Naval Governor of Guam
- Cronkite, Walter
- Dodd, Chris
- DuPont, Pete
- Gerry, Elbridge Thomas
- Gould, Jay
- Hinds, Alfred Walton, 17th Naval Governor of Guam
- Iselin, C. Oliver
- Jobson, Gary
- Kennedy Jr, Ted
- Kozlowski, Dennis, (resigned)
- Lehman, John, Secretary of the Navy
- Madoff, Bernard (resigned)
- Morgan, J P
- Mosbacher, Robert
- Roosevelt, Franklin D, 32ndPresident of the United States
- Roughead, Gary, 29th Chief of Naval Operations, US Navy
- Sloan, Alfred P.
- Stevens, John Cox
- Stephens, Olin, yacht designer
- Turner, Ted,
- Vanderbilt, Harold Stirling
- Watson Jr., Thomas
Some additional excerpts from Wikipedia:
The members have contributed to the sport of yachting and yacht design. The organization has over 3,000 members as of 2011. Membership in the club is by invitation only. Its officers include a Commodore, vice-commodore, rear-commodore, secretary and treasurer.
The New York Yacht Club was founded on July 30, 1844 by nine gentlemen. John Cox Stevens, the leader of this group, and a prominent citizen of New York with a passion for sports, was elected commodore. George L. Schuyler and Hamilton Wilkes were also NYYC founders that, together with Stevens and two others, created the syndicate that built and raced the great schooner-yacht, America. Wilkes served as the club’s first vice-commodore. Schuyler played a key role in the founding of the America's Cup regatta, and served as its unofficial consultant until his death in 1890.
During the first decades of the club's history, racing for prize money was the objective among most members. In 1851, a syndicate of NYYC enthusiasts built and raced America, capturing the "One Hundred Sovereign Cup" at the annual regatta of the Royal Yacht Squadron. On July 8, 1857, the coveted trophy was donated to the NYYC, to serve as a challenge cup for sportsmanlike competition between nations. The "America's Cup Race," named for its first winner, played a central role in the history of the club.
The America's Cup was held for 132 years, until Australia II defeated Dennis Conner's Liberty off Newport, Rhode Island in 1983. This record remains the longest continuous winning streak in sports history.
Since the loss of the Cup the NYYC has been forced to reinvent itself and the Club has become involved in team racing, dinghy racing, youth sailing, and international regattas. In 2002 the Club hosted the Intercollegiate Sailing Association Sloop North American Championships. In 2006 the Club hosted the Blind Sailing World Championships.
Anyone looking at the club's web site will notice corporate sponsorhip from Rolex along with news of recent competitions, etc. Most of what occurs at the various private clubs is not for general consumption, but the New York Yacht Club is far more open about what's going on which includes a host of videos on YouTube such as the one below from June of this year:
Click on the screen image below for the club web site:
Annual regatta, June 2012:
I have at least one old 16mm film that my grandfather shot when he was one of the members who sailed up to Halifax in the annual race back in the late '20s or early '30s (the film reel is undated). The film is so long that I have only watched the beginning and never sat through the entire length of it, however, one of these days I will definitely watch the whole movie which is in black and white with no sound.
Besides the clubhouse in Manhattan, the club has a presence in Newport where the former residence (called Harbour Court) of John Nicholas Brown serves as another clubhouse right on the water. It's in the Newport area that much of the club's races take place.
Below is a shot of the harbor from the club's web site. The Newport bridge is in the far distance on the left:
I have sailed a bit over the years, mostly on lakes in CT and NH, plus Long Island Sound and Narragansett Bay. I must admit when I see the club's videos of the teams engaged in racing in the waters I miss the enjoyment and excitement of being on a fast moving sailboat in a stiff breeze.