New York Athletic Club
New York Athletic Club logo
|Formation||September 8, 1868|
|Founder||John C. Babcock
William Buckingham Curtis
|Type||Private social club|
|Headquarters||180 Central Park South
New York, NY
|Metropolitan New York|
The New York Athletic Club is a private social club and athletic club in New York City. Founded in 1868, the club has approximately 8,600 members and two facilities: the City House located at 180 Central Park South in Manhattan and Travers Island in Westchester County. Membership in the club is by invitation only.
The club offers many sports, including rowing, wrestling, boxing, judo, fencing, swimming, basketball, rugby union, soccer, tennis, handball, squash, snooker, lacrosse and water polo.
The City House, located at 180 Central Park South, is a large, cavernous building built in the early twentieth century which offers panoramic views of Central Park. Designed by Charles W. Clinton, the 24-floor facility includes two restaurants, a cocktail lounge, library, ballroom, billiard room, meeting rooms, rooftop solarium, and eight floors of guest rooms for members and club guests. The athletic training floors include a swimming pool, basketball courts, boxing rings, a fencing and wrestling room, judo floor, and squash courts.
Named for Wall Street businessman William R. Travers who arranged for its purchase in 1886, Travers Island is the NYAC's summer facility on Long Island Sound. It consists of the main house, other buildings and facilities that sit on 30 acres (120,000 m2) of landscaped grounds. Centered around the Main House, the Olympic-sized salt water pool, and accompanying cabanas, Travers Island extends the range of NYAC sports to include tennis, rowing, yachting, outdoor swimming and diving, a children's day camp, rugby, soccer, croquet, and lacrosse.
In 1866, William Buckingham Curtis, Harry Buermeyer, and John C. Babcock opened a gymnasium on the corner of 6th Avenue and 14th Street in their New York City apartment, after discussing the rapid rise of organized athletics in England. Interest in their gym grew, and the three men decided to found the New York Athletic Club on September 8, 1868. The club was modeled after the London Athletic Club. Their goal was to sponsor athletic competitions in the New York area, and to keep official records for different sports. The NYAC was established on September 8, 1868. Its Constitution and Bylaws were adopted in December 1868. In the beginning there was no initiation fee, but $10 was required for the first six months of dues.
In 1879, at which time it had 170 members, it published rules in various amateur sports, including fencing, sparring, and Greco-Roman wrestling. The NYAC can be considered the foundation for amateur athletics in the United States. It was the first organization to compile and apply a code of rules for the government of athletic meetings, the first to offer prizes for open amateur games, and the first to hold an amateur championship.
NYAC members have won 119 Olympic gold medals, 53 silver medals, and 59 bronze medals. Presently, the NYAC has top-ranked competitors in wrestling, judo, rowing, fencing, water polo and track and field, among other sports. Forty NYAC members competed for three countries at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, winning 16 medals.
Mercury Cup series
The NYAC's Mercury Cup series is the premier regional fencing event in North America. The series includes a number of épée and sabre tournaments, ending each season with the famous "Epeepalooza" and "Sabrage" events. Competitors earn points based on final placements at each tournament, with the champion being the highest-ranked fencer at the conclusion of the season.
The Mercury Cup has proven successful due to the club's prestige, corporate sponsorship, and the event's extraordinarily high-level of competition.
Mercury Cup champions
|2007–2008||Alexander Abend||Sergey Isayenko|
|2008–2009||Jon Normile||Ben Igoe|
Individual event champions
2005–2006 Épée series
Mercury Cup #1: Noah Zucker
Mercury Cup #2: Alexander Abend
Mercury Cup #3: Alexander Abend
Mercury Cup #4: Mykhaylo Mokretsov
Mercury Cup #5: Alexander Abend
Mercury Cup #6: Alex Tsinis
2006–2007 Épée series
Mercury Cup #1: Alexander Abend
Mercury Cup #2: Alexander Abend
Mercury Cup #3: Soren Thompson
Mercury Cup #4: Alexander Abend
Mercury Cup #5: Brendan Baby
Mercury Cup #6: Tommi Hurme
2007–2008 Épée series
Mercury Cup #1: Alexander Abend
Mercury Cup #2: Bas Verwijlen
Mercury Cup #3: Tommi Hurme
Mercury Cup #4: Jon Normile
Mercury Cup #5: Jon Normile
2008–2009 Épée series
Mercury Cup #1: Alex Tsinis
Mercury Cup #2: Jon Normile
Mercury Cup #3: Jon Normile
2007–2008 Sabre series
Mercury Cup #1: Sergey Isayenko
Mercury Cup #2: Ben Igoe
Mercury Cup #3: Sergey Isayenko
2008–2009 Sabre series
Mercury Cup #1: Ben Igoe
Mercury Cup #2: Ben Igoe
Mercury Cup #3: Daryl Homer
Other notable events
In November 2003, the club was the site of a four-game chess match between Garry Kasparov and the computer program X3D Fritz. In June 2004, the club played host to the final play-offs of the United States National Snooker Championship, and in May 2017 it played host to the entire event.
The NYAC currently fields 22 different teams for the following sports:
Controversies over admissions
The New York Athletic Club was once an all-male club. A New York City law was passed in 1984 requiring "the admission of women to large, private clubs that play an important role in business and professional life." In June 1988, this was unanimously upheld by the United States Supreme Court. After continuing to challenge the statute on the grounds that the club was not business oriented, the NYAC voluntarily admitted women members in 1989.
There were also claims, over the years, that the club discriminated against blacks and Jews. In 1936, Olympian Marty Glickman was turned away in the lobby by the NYAC's Athletic Director when he sought to join his fellow runner and work out at the club. Glickman believed this was because he was Jewish. In the mid-1950s, New York City Councilman Earl D. Brown, a Manhattan Democrat, refused to attend an outing at a NYAC facility, to protest the fact that the club: "discriminates against Negroes and Jews on its track team". The Race Relations Reporter reported that a spokesman for the NYAC, Mr. Alfred Foster, "admitted that the club has no Jewish or Negro athletes on its teams". However, they also reported the club secretary saying the club did have some Jewish members.
In February 1962, New York City Mayor Robert F. Wagner, Jr. quit the NYAC due to allegations that it barred blacks and Jews. Woody Allen had a joke about a Jewish couple that was dressed as a moose and was shot and stuffed and mounted at the NYAC, with his punch line being "And the joke is on them, because it is restricted."
In May 1964, the club was picketed by demonstrators from the Congress for Racial Equality who shouted slogans calling for integration of Negroes and Jews. In the late 1960s, The Olympic Project for Human Rights convinced black athletes to boycott events held at the NYAC on the grounds that the club excluded Blacks and Jews from membership. Olympian Byron Dyce, with the NYU track team and most Black athletes, boycotted the NYAC Games at Madison Square Garden in February 1968 to protest the club's allegedly discriminatory membership policies. A 500-600-person crowd protested the club's exclusionary practices outside the Games, with picketers charging police who swung their nightsticks at the picketers in reaction, with each at times knocking the others to the ground. At the same time, fifty alumni of Notre Dame encouraged their fellow alumni to resign from the club unless it explained its exclusion of non-Whites and Jews. In June 1970, columnist Nat Hentoff criticized Ted Sorenson, who was running in the primary election for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senator from New York, because Sorenson had lived for a time at the NYAC, writing: "what kind of man would choose to live in one of this city's redoubts of bigotry?"
In March 1981, prior to a press conference at the NYAC, Muhammad Ali picked up the microphone to test it out and said: "Ladies and Gentlemen, the Jews and niggers and all the other members of the NAACP welcome you to the NYAC." In 1989, Olympic gold medal winner Antonio McKay became the first Black track and field athlete to compete for the NYAC.
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- A. H. Curtis, 1888.
- Bartow Sumter Weeks (1861-1922), circa 1920.
- James J. Wilson, ? to 1964.
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The now Summer home of the New-York Athletic Club on Travers Island, near Pelham Manor, on the Sound, was opened yesterday for inspection by the members and their friends. The building, designed by Douglas Smythe, is a handsome structure of wood in the prevailing...
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