Yale Club of New York City

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Coordinates: 40°45′14″N 73°58′39″W / 40.754019°N 73.977524°W / 40.754019; -73.977524

The Yale Club of New York City
Private club for Yale alumni and faculty
Founded1897; 122 years ago (1897)
Headquarters50 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, New York City. Its membership is restricted almost entirely to alumni and faculty of Yale University. With a clubhouse comprising 22 stories, the Yale Club has a worldwide membership of over 11,000. Upon opening in 1915, the building became the largest clubhouse in the world and continues to be the largest college clubhouse in existence.[1]


The Yale Club's main entrance on Vanderbilt Avenue

The club is located at 50 Vanderbilt Avenue, at the intersection of East 44th Street,[2] 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.[3] The neighborhood also includes similar clubs not affiliated with universities, like the New York Yacht Club and the University Club of New York,[3] as well as the flagship stores of Brooks Brothers, J. Press, and Paul Stuart, which traditionally catered to the club set.[4] The building is a New York City designated landmark.[5]

The 22-story clubhouse contains three dining spaces (the "Tap Room," the "Grill Room," and the Roof Dining Room and Terrace), four bars (in the Tap Room, Grill Room, Main Lounge, and on the Roof Terrace), banquet rooms for up to 500 people like the 20th floor Grand Ballroom, 138 Guest Rooms, a library, a Fitness and Squash Center with three international squash courts and a swimming pool, 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 large columns and walls lined with fireplaces and portraits of the five Yale-educated United States 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.[6] Outside the lounge above the main staircase hangs a posthumous portrait of Elihu Yale by Francis Edwin Elwell.


Early history[edit]

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.[3]

The current clubhouse opened in June 1915, designed by architect and Yale alumnus James Gamble Rogers in conjunction with the construction of Grand Central Terminal.[2] 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.[7] Today, the site of Hale's execution is disputed.[7]

According to the Ken Burns documentary Prohibition, the Yale Club was able to stock up enough liquor to see the club through the repeal of Prohibition in 1933.

21st century[edit]

Heisman Trophy which was awarded to USC Trojans quarterback Carson Palmer at the Yale Club in 2002.

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.[8] 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."[9]

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.[10][11] 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).

In June 2007, former United States Solicitor General and onetime Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork sued the club in federal court. Bork alleged that, while trying to reach the dais to speak at an event for The New Criterion magazine, he fell because the club negligently failed to provide steps or a handrail between the floor and the dais.[12] Bork claimed that his injuries required surgery, immobilized him for months, forced him to use a cane, and left him with a limp. He sought judgment for $1 million in damages plus punitive damages and attorney's fees.[13] In May 2008, Bork and the club reached a confidential, out-of-court settlement.[14]


To be eligible for election to membership, a candidate must be alumni, faculty member, or full-time graduate student of Yale University. The club also offers legacy memberships for any Yale-affiliated member's children. The club sends out a monthly newsletter to all members.

Yale College did not allow women to become members until 1969.[15] 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.[16] Once Yale opened to women, however, the club quickly followed suit on July 30, 1969,[16] although the club did not open its bar, dining room, or athletic facilities to women until 1974[17] and did not open its swimming pool (known as "the plunge") to women until 1987.[18] 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 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[edit]

  • 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 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."
  • In F. Scott Fitzgerald's 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.
  • Amy Vanderbilt used the Yale Club throughout her 1952 Complete Guide to Etiquette and subsequent editions when giving examples of how to address or style stationery, letters, cards, and invitations involving clubs.
  • In 1965, in his weekly column titled "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."[19] 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 1972, Frank Mankiewicz famously described John Lindsay as "the only populist in history who plays squash at the Yale Club."[20]
  • In 1987 novel Bonfire of the Vanities, by Tom Wolfe, the protagonist Sherman McCoy, a WASP bond trader at a fictional Wall Street firm Pierce & Pierce, is a graduate of Yale University and a member of Yale Club of New York. On the morning when the deal he was working on collapses, the story recalls Sherman having "a craving to go to the Yale Club and take a steam bath and lie down on one of those leather-top tables and get a good hot hammering massage".
  • 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 coworker Luis Carruthers is in love with him. The chapter is titled "Yale Club."
  • In a 1993 episode of the CBS television sitcom Murphy Brown titled "The Egg and I," when recounting the events that led to George H.W. Bush banning Murphy Brown from the White House, colleague Jim Dial mentions an "unfortunate incident in the steam room of the Yale Club."
  • In the 2005 novel Nothing Can Keep Us Together – the eighth novel in the Gossip Girl series by Cecily von Ziegesar – main character Blair Waldorf lives in the Yale Club for a short period of time and holds her graduation party there.
  • On the April 17, 2008, episode of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, while commenting on "Elitist Persecution," correspondent and Yale alumnus John Hodgman declared, "As an elitist myself, I've had enough! Or, as we say at the Yale Club, ' Ça suffit! '"[21]
  • The Yale Club is mentioned in several episodes of the long-running television crime drama Law & Order, which was based in Manhattan.
  • In the Showtime drama Billions the interior of the Yale Club is depicted in the 2017 second-season episode "The Kingmaker". Billionaire Bobby Axelrod enters the club to confront U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Chuck Rhoades and his father, who are both members.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b Mooney, James E. (1995). "Yale Club". In Kenneth T. Jackson (ed.). The Encyclopedia of New York City. New Haven, CT & London & New York: Yale University Press & The New-York Historical Society. p. 1280.
  3. ^ a b c "The Old Yale Club; Make Way for the Blue and Gold," The New York Times, July 9, 1989
  4. ^ "The Season; Tickling the Ivy," The New York Times, September 19, 2004
  5. ^ "Yale Club of New York City" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. November 22, 2016. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  6. ^ "The Painter And the President," The New York Times, November 9, 2003,
  7. ^ a b "Yale Club Had but One Hale to Lose," The New York Times, January 19, 1995
  8. ^ Collins, Glenn (August 20, 1999). "Eli Chic or Boola Boorish?; Moral Crisis: Yale Club Goes Casual on Fridays". The New York Times.
  9. ^ Carole Bass, "At Yale Club of NYC, Yale blue now includes denim — sometimes," Yale Alumni Magazine (Aug. 27, 2012)
  10. ^ 68th Heisman Trophy
  11. ^ Okla. QB Jason White Wins Heisman Trophy
  12. ^ Mytelka, Andrew (June 7, 2007). "Robert Bork Cites 'Wanton' Negligence in Suing Yale Club for $1-Million". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  13. ^ Complaint (June 6, 2007). Robert H. Bork v. The Yale Club of New York City, Docket No. 07 Civ. 4826 (PDF). Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  14. ^ Zambito, Thomas (May 10, 2008). "Supreme Nominee Bork Settles Yale Suit". New York Daily News. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  15. ^ "High and Dry At the Yale Club?" The New York Times, November 5, 2000
  16. ^ a b "Vote of 35-to-15 Lets Women Join 6,000-Member Yale Club," The New York Times, July 31, 1969
  17. ^ "Women's Privileges Widened at Yale Club," The New York Times, June 15, 1974
  18. ^ "Yale Club Lets Women Take 'the Plunge,'" The New York Times, October 7, 1987
  19. ^ "My Turn," by John O'Hara, Newsday, September 4, 1965
  20. ^ "Front and Center for George McGovern". Time Magazine. May 8, 1972. Retrieved June 8, 2009.
  21. ^ "Elitist Persecution," The Daily Show, April 17, 2008

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