City Club of New York

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City Club of New York
FormationMarch 1892; 131 years ago (1892-03)
FounderEdmond Kelly
PurposeCivic advocacy, Good government
Michael S. Gruen

The City Club of New York is a New York City–based independent, not-for-profit organization.

In 1950, The New York Times called the City Club of New York "a social club with a civic purpose"[1] whose members "fought for adequate water supply, the extension of rapid transit lines, lower costs of foreclosure in private homes, and the merit system in civil service, [as well as] ... traffic relief, the prevention of juvenile delinquency."[2] The City Club claimed that it inspired the creation of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and also fought for minimum wage laws, city parks, and playground programs.[3]

For 30 years the City Club of New York administered the Albert S. Bard Award for Distinguished Architecture and Urban Design, which not only conferred honors on top city buildings but also used the occasion to comment on the state of municipal architecture in general.[4]


The City Club was founded as a gentlemen's club in March 1892[5][6] by a group of 23 men, including such prominent names as August Belmont, Jr., James C. Carter, John Jay Chapman, R. Fulton Cutting, W. Bayard Cutting, Charles DeKay, George C. Magoun, George Haven Putnam, and John Woodruff Simpson.[7] Spurred by international law expert Edmond Kelly[1] (1851–1909), their mission was to:[5]

promote social intercourse among persons specially interested in the good government of the City of New-York, in securing honesty and efficiency in the administration of city affairs, and in severing municipal from national politics. The organization will also aim to procure the election of fit persons to city offices, and will exert its influence steadily in behalf of an honest, efficient, and independent city government.

The first club president was James C. Carter.[8] The group first met as a club in June 1892 at a dinner of about 200 men at Sherry's.[1]

The City Club's first target was Tammany Hall; they helped the Lexow Committee probe into police corruption, and worked to elect William Lafayette Strong in 1895 as the reform mayor of New York. In 1897 the City Club helped organize the Citizens Union.[1]

In 1913 the City Club commissioned a large boulder to commemorate the burial site of Captain Thomas Willett (died 1674), the first English mayor of New York, at Little Neck Cemetery, East Providence, Rhode Island.[9] By the 1920s the City Club was advocating on behalf of making the city safer in areas like urban planning and transportation; they also expanded their advocacy to the State of New York as a whole. They published an annual "Murder Map," documenting the deaths of children due to traffic accidents and other unsafe urban conditions. In May 1937 the City Club bestowed its first annual "Citation for Meritorious Service" to New York City Parks Commissioner Robert Moses.[10]

Despite their earlier commendation of Robert Moses' work, as time moved on the club opposed many of Moses' plans for the development of New York City: it successfully organized opposition to the Brooklyn-Battery Bridge project and was instrumental in the preservation of Castle Clinton. In the late 1930s and early 1940s lawyer and civic activist Albert S. Bard exercised his influence in civic and urban affairs through his work on City Club committees.[11] The Albert S. Bard Award (see below) was later named in his honor. The City Club celebrated its 50th anniversary in May 1942; among those in attendance were New York City Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia, New York State Lieutenant Governor Charles Poletti, and former Governor Al Smith.[7]

From 1962–1997, the City Club hosted roundtable luncheons, held every Friday except during the summer. Invited speakers (usually members) made presentations before the City Club. The luncheon presentations were aired live by WNYC-AM until 1987, when the station instead taped the luncheons and aired them during off-peak hours.[12]

The City Club caused controversy In 1967 in a strongly worded article by activist Chairman I. D. Robbins about the perceived failures of the John Lindsay administration, particularly in regard to housing. Some club members objected to the article, asserting that it did not represent the official City Club position.[13] Robbins offered to resign but was not allowed to.[14]

In 1973, the City Club of New York celebrated its 80th anniversary with a gala dinner at the New York Hilton. Attendees included New York Mayor John Lindsay and former Mayor Robert F. Wagner (both of whom had been heavily criticized by the City Club at various times).[15] At the gala, the City Club handed out 23 "For New York" awards to citizens who dedicated themselves to bettering the city. Recipients included John Chancellor, Walter Cronkite, Lloyd Goodrich, Ada Louise Huxtable, Willie Mays, Arthur Mitchell, Bess Myerson, John Bertram Oakes, Joseph Papp, I. M. Pei, Dorothy Schiff, Neil Simon, Preston Robert Tisch, and Lila Bell Wallace.[15]

In 1984 the City Club elected Sally Goodgold as its first female president; she was noted for her ability to attract high-profile names to the Club's weekly luncheon speaker series.[16][17]

The club suspended activities in 2003. In 2013 the club hired a new president, Michael S. Gruen, and resumed its role of civic advocacy, taking on New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's East Midtown rezoning plans.[6]


The Club's first headquarters, located at 677 Fifth Avenue, was secured in October 1892.[8]

By the early 1900s, the City Club commissioned its own clubhouse at 55 West 44th Street, which was designed by architect Austin W. Lord and erected in 1904. After 40 years at that location, in 1944 the club moved to the Hotel Russell at 45 Park Avenue.[18] (The 44th Street structure is now the City Club Hotel.)[19]


In 1892 the club's membership was more than 650 men,[8] and by 1904, membership was 667 (including 195 lawyers, 61 bankers, 31 doctors, 28 stockbrokers, 26 editors and writers, and 13 clergymen).[3]

By 1950, City Club membership was down to 200 men and the club had been unsuccessful at recruiting a new generation of civic-minded applicants. In February 1950 they voted to disband, stating that the work they had been doing should be "entrusted to the Citizens Union ..., which has the staff to carry on...."[1] Shortly thereafter, however, the club was revived with an influx of younger men, and it vowed to continue its work.[20]

In 1969, club membership was about 200 men,[15] but had increased to about 400 in 1973.[21]

In 1974, the City Club of New York opened its membership to women.[6]

In 2011, the City Club had 450 members.[22]

Club officers[edit]

Notable City Club of New York officers, past and present



  • 1911–1944 Joseph M. Price — key organizer of the Fusion Executive Committee, which in 1913 succeeded in electing John Purroy Mitchel mayor of New York, defeating the Tammany Hall candidate[28]
  • 1979–1989 Stanley Turkel[12]

Albert S. Bard Award[edit]

The Albert S. Bard Award (full name Albert S. Bard Award for Distinguished Architecture and Urban Design) created in 1962 and administered by the City Club, honored those who helped enrich the intellectual and cultural life of the community through architecture and urban design. The award was conceived by City Club member architect Leon Brand, who envisioned "an architectural prize intended to raise the standard of excellence for building design in New York City."[29]

The Bard Award was born into controversy when the City Club refused to present any awards in its inaugural year, claiming that they were unable to find "a single work of civic architecture created in the city since 1958 worthy" of the award.[30] The New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects sharply criticized the City Club for this pronouncement.[31]

For many years, the Bard Awards were distributed on alternate years for public and private buildings. Top awards were deemed "First Honor;" those that didn't reach such a high level were called "Merit Awards."[32] Award juries were composed of a rotating group of top architects and urban planners, as well as City Club of New York officers.[33]

The City Club stopped presenting the Albert S. Bard Award in the early 1990s;[29] winners included:

Distinguished New Yorker Award[edit]

In 1967, in honor of their 75th anniversary, the City Club began presenting Distinguished New Yorker awards to a deserving citizen or citizens. The award presentation was often attended by the current New York City mayor. Recipients included:

The City Club Distinguished New Yorker award is not related to the Real Estate Board of New York's Harry B. Helmsley Distinguished New Yorker Award, which was established in 1992.[48]


  • Mayor Low's Administration in New York. City Club of New York (1903).
  • New York City Transit: A Memorandum Addressed to the Public Service Commission of the First District. City Club of New York. 1907. Retrieved 2012-11-05.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Club Ending in its 58th Year," New York Times (Feb. 8, 1950).
  2. ^ "THE CITY CLUB DISBANDS," New York Times (Feb. 15, 1950).
  3. ^ a b HOLUSHA, JOHN. "COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE: REGIONAL MARKET -- Midtown Manhattan; Club and Hotel to Share More Than the Name," New York Times (June 4, 2003).
  4. ^ Huxtable, Ada Louise. "Architectural Dynamite: City Club Criticism of Municipal Design Underscores Need for Drastic Reform," New York Times (May 14, 1963).
  5. ^ a b "The New City Club," New York Times (March 19, 1892).
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Dunlap David. W. "BUILDING BLOCKS: A Goad to the Powerful, Lately Dormant, Is Stirred by a Midtown Zoning Plan," New York Times (August 28, 2013).
  7. ^ a b "CITY CLUB TO MARK 50TH ANNIVERSARY," New York Times (May 10, 1942).
  8. ^ a b c "The City Club's New Home," New York Times (October 3, 1892).
  9. ^ "East Providence Historical Society". East Providence Historical Society. Archived from the original on 2013-10-21. Retrieved 2016-04-20.
  10. ^ a b "CITY CLUB HONOR AWARDED TO MOSES," New York Times (May 22, 1937).
  11. ^ Albert S. Bard Papers, Boxes 18, 24, 60-73.
  12. ^ a b Nichols, Mary Perot. Letter to the Editor: What Really Happened to City Club Broadcasts," New York Times (August 1, 1987).
  13. ^ Within, Richard. "CITY CLUB REJECTS ATTACK ON MAYOR: Says Article by Chairman Is Not Official Position," New York Times (November 21, 1967).
  14. ^ Ronan, Thomas P. "ROBBINS SAYS BID TO RESIGN FAILED: City Club Trustees Did Not Accept Terms, He Asserts Article Criticized," New York Times (Dec. 7, 1967).
  15. ^ a b c WEISMAN, STEVEN R. "CITY CLUB, AT 80, IN BUSIEST YEAR: Plans a Series of Reports on Government Here 23 Awards Presented Charter Revision Cited," New York Times (March 10, 1973).
  16. ^ DUNLAP, DAVID W. "Sally Goodgold, Civic Advocate Who Practiced ‘Bagel Diplomacy,’ Dies at 82," New York Times (AUG. 28, 2011).
  17. ^ NICHOLS, MARY PEROT. "Letter to the Editor: What Really Happened to City Club Broadcasts," New York Times (August 1, 1987).
  18. ^ "QUITS CITY CLUB POST: Price, Chairman for 33 Years, Is Succeeded by Sparry," New York Times (Feb. 12, 1944).
  19. ^ Stanley Turkel, Built to Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York (AuthorHouse, 2011), pp. 109–15. ISBN 1463443412
  20. ^ "CITY CLUB TO TRY AGAIN; Group of Young New Members to Seek to Revive Organization," New York Times (March 18, 1950).
  21. ^ BURKS, EDWARD C. "State's Transit-Bond Plan Is Denounced by City Club: A Defeat Predicted," New York Times (Sept. 25, 1973).
  22. ^ Turkel, Stanley. "Paid Notice: Deaths: GOODGOLD, SALLY," New York Times (August 26, 2011).
  23. ^ Jessica Marati (2008), "George McAneny". Mudd Manuscript Library of the Princeton University Library. Archived from the original on 2011-06-11. Retrieved March 20, 2011.
  24. ^ "Three Empty Places," New York Times (December 16, 1978): "For 14 years he presided over the National Municipal League; he was president of the City Club of New York for 12 years, and Chairman of the Citizens Union for another six."
  25. ^ "City Club of New York Elects New President," New York Times (Dec. 5, 1956).
  26. ^ "Durable Campaigner: Theodore Roosevelt Kupferman," New York Times (August 22, 1962).
  27. ^ "City Club Elects Turkel," New York Times (December 17, 1966), p. 35.
  28. ^ "JOSEPH PRICE DIES: LED MITCHEL DRIVE: Head of Successful Campaign for Mayoralty in 1913 Was City Club Executive," New York Times (May 14, 1949).
  29. ^ a b c d PETERSON, ALISON J. "Leon Brand, 74, Who Founded New York Architecture Prize, Dies," New York Times (NOV. 5, 2007).
  30. ^ Burnham, Alexander. "CITY HELD FAILURE IN ARCHITECTURE: Club Can't Find a Municipal Building Worthy of Award," New York Times (May 14, 1963).
  31. ^ a b Burnham, Alexander. "ARCHITECTS SCORE ATTACK ON DESIGN: City Club's Decision Not to Give Civic Award Is Called Misleading and Lazy," New York Times (June 12, 1963).
  32. ^ a b c d HUXTABLE, ADA LOUISE. "Architecture: 6 Designs Win Bard Merit Awards," New York Times (June 14, 1973).
  34. ^ a b c "NO BUILDING FOUND TO MERIT CITY CLUB AWARD," New York Times (January 17, 1982).
  35. ^ "Albert S. Bard Civic Awards," (Apr 27, 1966), WNYC website. Accessed April 19, 2016.
  36. ^ a b c Bird, David. "Bard Awards Made for Four Projects," New York Times (May 4, 1967).
  37. ^ a b HUXTABLE, ADA LOUISE. "Dissimilar Buildings, Similar Awards," New York Times (May 24, 1970).
  38. ^ a b "Prizes for Design Go to 2 Universities For Buildings Here," New York Times (June 17, 1971).
  39. ^ a b HUXTABLE, ADA LOUISE. "Two Buildings Win Design Awards," New York Times (May 19, 1972).
  40. ^ a b c Fowler, Glenn. "Bard Awards Honor 8 Examples of Good Urban Design," New York Times (June 12, 1975).
  41. ^ a b "Urban Oases Hailed in Annual Bard Awards," New York Times (June 16, 1976).
  42. ^ a b HORSLEY, CARTER B. "ARCHITECTURE AWARD HONORS 8 PROJECTS: New York City Club Singles Out Bronx Development Center and Roosevelt Island Complex," New York Times (June 16, 1977).
  43. ^ "17 TO GET AWARDS FOR SERVICE TO CITY," New York Times (October 12, 1967).
  44. ^ "Potofsky Is Given Award At City Club Dinner Here," New York Times (October 29, 1969).
  45. ^ "CITY CLUB HONORS MRS. MARY LASKER," New York Times (October 21, 1970).
  46. ^ "Time Inc. Head to Get Award," New York Times (April 18, 1972).
  47. ^ "Moynihan Proposes Reform of Welfare To Revive the City," New York Times (January 15, 1976).
  48. ^ "The Harry B. Helmsley Distinguished New Yorker Award," Real Estate Board of New York official website. Accessed Apr. 20, 2016.

External links[edit]