Yale Club of New York City
|Headquarters||50 Vanderbilt Avenue
New York, New York 10017
The Yale Club of New York City, commonly called The Yale Club, is a private club in Midtown Manhattan, in New York City, New York, United States. Its membership is restricted almost entirely to alumni and faculty of Yale University. With a clubhouse comprising 22 stories and a worldwide membership of over 11,000, it is the largest private clubhouse in the world.
The club is located at 50 Vanderbilt Avenue, at the intersection of East 44th Street, across Vanderbilt Avenue from Grand Central Terminal and the MetLife Building. Four other clubs affiliated with Ivy League universities have clubhouses in the surrounding neighborhood: the Harvard Club of New York, the Princeton Club of New York, the Penn Club of New York City, and the Cornell Club. The neighborhood also includes similar clubs not affiliated with universities, like the New York Yacht Club and the University Club of New York, as well as the flagship stores of Brooks Brothers, J. Press, and Paul Stuart, which traditionally catered to the club set.
The 22-story clubhouse contains three dining spaces (the "Tap Room," the "Grill Room," and a rooftop terrace), three bars (in the Tap Room, Grill Room, and Main Lounge), banquet rooms for up to 500 people, 140 guestrooms, a library, an athletic center, and a barber shop, among other amenities. The heart of the clubhouse is the main lounge, a large room with a high, ornate ceiling and wood-paneled walls lined with fireplaces and portraits of the five Yale-educated U.S. presidents, all of whom are or were members of the Yale Club: William Howard Taft; Gerald R. Ford; George H.W. Bush; Bill Clinton; and George W. Bush. Outside the lounge above the main staircase hangs a posthumous portrait of Elihu Yale by Francis Edwin Elwell.
The roots of the club reach back to 1868 and the foundation of the Old Yale Alumni Association of New York. In response to the association's desire for a permanent clubhouse, it formally established the Yale Club in 1897. One of the incorporators was Senator Chauncey Depew, whose portrait by the Swiss-born American artist Adolfo Müller-Ury painted in 1890 hangs in the building. The first president of the Yale Club was attorney Thomas Thacher, founder of Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett. The first clubhouse was a rented brownstone at 17 East 26th Street. Thereafter, in 1901, the club built and opened a new, twelve-story clubhouse at 30 West 44th Street, which today is home to the Penn Club of New York.
The current clubhouse opened in June 1915, designed by architect and Yale alumnus James Gamble Rogers. It was largely paid for by money raised or contributed by President George C. Ide of Brooklyn (whose portrait by George Burroughs Torrey also hangs in the building). It purposely was situated on the very corner where Yale alumnus Nathan Hale was hanged by the British Army for espionage during the American Revolution. Today, the site of Hale's execution is disputed.
In July 1999, the Yale Club became the first of New York's Ivy League university clubs to change its dress code to business casual, a move which upset some members and was received with polite scorn from other clubs. Today, the dress code remains business casual, except in the athletic facilities. In the fall of 2012, the club began to allow denim to be worn in the library, the Grill Room, and on the rooftop terrace during the summer, but nowhere else, as long as it is "neat, clean, and in good repair."
Following the September 11 attacks in 2001, the Heisman Trophy, traditionally presented at the Downtown Athletic Club, was presented at the Yale Club in 2002 and 2003. The 2002 winner was quarterback Carson Palmer of the USC Trojans, and the 2003 winner was quarterback Jason White of the University of Oklahoma Sooners. Before the two Heisman Trophy ceremonies, the un-awarded trophy itself was displayed in the Yale Club's lobby, flanked by portraits of Yale's two Heisman winners, end Larry Kelley (1936) and halfback Clint Frank (1937).
On June 6, 2007, former United States Solicitor General and onetime Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork filed suit in federal court in New York City against the club over an incident that had occurred a year earlier. Bork alleged that, while trying to reach the dais to speak at an event for The New Criterion magazine, he suffered a fall due to the Yale Club's failure to provide any steps or handrail between the floor and the dais. According to the complaint, Bork's injuries required surgery, immobilized him for months, forced him to use a cane, and left him with a limp. In May, 2008, Bork and the Yale Club reached a confidential, out-of-court settlement.
To be eligible for election to membership, a candidate must be an alumnus, faculty member, or full-time graduate student of Yale University. The club also offers legacy memberships for any Yale-affiliated member's children and grandchildren. The club sends out a monthly newsletter to all members.
Yale College did not allow women to become members until 1969. Wives of members even had to enter the club through a separate entrance (today the service entrance), and were not allowed to have access to much of the clubhouse. Once Yale opened to women, however, the club quickly followed suit on July 30, 1969, although the club did not open its bar, dining room, or athletic facilities to women until 1974 and did not open its swimming pool (known as "the plunge") to women until 1987. Now, though, women constitute a large percentage of the club's membership.
Three other, smaller clubs also are in residence at the Yale Club: the Dartmouth Club, the Virginia Club, and the Delta Kappa Epsilon Club. Members of these other clubs have the same access to the clubhouse and its facilities as members of the Yale Club itself.
According to a book published for the club's 1997 centennial, members at that time included George H. W. Bush, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bill Clinton, Gerald Ford, John Kerry and George Pataki. Among others were architect Cesar Pelli and author David McCullough. Today, the Yale Club has over 11,000 members worldwide.
In popular culture
In the third chapter of the 1925 novel The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the narrator, Nick Carraway, mentions that he "took dinner usually at the Yale Club", when describing his life as a bonds broker in New York. In Baz Luhrmann's 2013 feature film version, Nick and Tom Buchanan both belong to the Yale Club and are on their way there by train from Long Island when Tom takes Nick to meet his mistress, Myrtle. Later, Nick opines that Myrtle's raucous party was "better than the Yale Club." Fitzgerald also uses the club as a setting in his 1926 short story "The Rich Boy", the main character Anson Hunter is a member of the Yale Club and spends a great deal of time there, even when no one else is there. He also lives at the club temporarily during the summer.
In 1965, in his weekly column "My Turn", author John O'Hara lamented, "If Yale had given me a degree, I could have joined the Yale Club, where the food is pretty good, the library is ample and restful, the location convenient, and I could go there when I felt like it without sponging off friends. They also have a nice-looking necktie." O'Hara lamented his lack of a Yale degree so often that his friend Ernest Hemingway joked that a collection should be taken up to send O'Hara to Yale.
In the 1991 novel American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis, main character Patrick Bateman gets up to use the restroom during lunch at the Yale Club, where to his chagrin he discovers that his co-worker Luis Carruthers is in love with him. The chapter is titled "Yale Club."
In the 2005 novel Nothing Can Keep Us Together – the eighth novel in the Gossip Girl series by Cecily von Ziegesar – Blair Waldorf lives in the Yale Club for a short period of time and holds her graduation party there.
The Yale Club is mentioned in several episodes of the long-running television crime drama Law & Order, which was based in Manhattan.
- Columbia University Club of New York
- Cornell Club of New York
- Harvard Club of Boston
- Harvard Club of New York
- List of American gentlemen's clubs
- Penn Club of New York City
- Princeton Club of New York
- Mooney, James E. (1995). "Yale Club". In Kenneth T. Jackson. The Encyclopedia of New York City. New Haven, CT & London & New York: Yale University Press & The New-York Historical Society. p. 1280.
- "The Old Yale Club; Make Way for the Blue and Gold," The New York Times, July 9, 1989
- "The Season; Tickling the Ivy," The New York Times, September 19, 2004
- "The Painter And the President," The New York Times, November 9, 2003
- "Yale Club Had but One Hale to Lose," The New York Times, January 19, 1995
- "Eli Chic or Boola Boorish?; Moral Crisis: Yale Club Goes Casual on Fridays," The New York Times, August 20, 1999
- Carole Bass, "At Yale Club of NYC, Yale blue now includes denim — sometimes," Yale Alumni Magazine (Aug. 27, 2012)
- 68th Heisman Trophy
- Okla. QB Jason White Wins Heisman Trophy
- "Robert Bork Cites 'Wanton' Negligence in Suing Yale Club for $1-Million". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2007-08-17.
- "Robert H. Bork v. The Yale Club of New York City" (PDF). United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Retrieved 2007-08-17.
- "Supreme nominee Bork settles Yale suit", New York Daily News, May 10, 2008
- "High and Dry At the Yale Club?" The New York Times, November 5, 2000
- "Vote of 35-to-15 Lets Women Join 6,000-Member Yale Club," The New York Times, July 31, 1969
- "Women's Privileges Widened at Yale Club," The New York Times, June 15, 1974
- "Yale Club Lets Women Take 'the Plunge,'" The New York Times, October 7, 1987
- O'Hara, John. "My Turn", Newsday, 4 September 1965.
- "Front and Center for George McGovern". Time. May 8, 1972. Retrieved 2009-06-08.