New York Architecture Images- Midtown

New York Athletic Club

Top Ten New York Clubs


York and Sawyer


Central Park South at Seventh Ave.




Renaissance Revival


limestone and stucco concrete render on steel frame





The New York Athletic Club was founded in 1868 by Henry Buermeyer, John Babcock and William Curtis. All were accomplished athletes with a singular commitment to the growth and development of amateur sport in the United States. Furthermore, they possessed the foresight to realize that the time was right to introduce some organization - and uniformity of measurement - into sporting endeavors across the country, if not around the world. So, on September 8th of that year, Buermeyer, Curtis and Babcock, with 11 other similarly inclined sportsmen, gathered in a Manhattan tavern known as the Knickerbocker Cottage for the first meeting of what would become the NYAC. Though all were men of vision, none could have foreseen the impact their club would have on the world of amateur and Olympic sport. 
-It is impossible to detail the entire accomplishments - both sporting and commercial - of the New York Athletic Club and its members. Suffice it to say that the Club holds a unique place in the sporting pantheon, a position it bolsters with each passing year. 
-Thirty five NYAC athletes competed at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. These athletes continued a tradition that began over 130 years ago, a tradition illustrating all that can be accomplished by individuals of ability, vision and commitment, individuals who comprise the cornerstone of the New York Athletic Club. 
-Prior to the 2000 Games, NYAC members had won 115 Olympic gold medals, 40 silver medals and 47 bronze medals, more than all but four nations. 
-NYAC members have included some of the most celebrated names from the sporting world and beyond, George M. Cohan, Robert Ripley and Al Oerter among them. 
-The sport of competitive fencing was introduced to the United States by members of the NYAC. 
-The first squash courts in the USA were built at the NYAC and opened in 1903. 
-The NYAC staged the first indoor track meet in the USA and the first ever USA outdoor track and field championships in the United States. 
-The NYAC built the USA's first running track constructed of cinders, at the time an innovative, super-fast surface. 
-The NYAC introduced the first "velocipede" or bicycle race to America in 1868.


"The athletic facilities were gather together in the building's lower floors, so that the ninth floor was the principal social floor with a lounge and library. The private dining rooms were on the tenth floor, and the grand...dining rooms seating 500 persons in all were on the eleventh floor, where a large loggia was provided for summertime dining. The location of the open-air loggia on the west side of the building facing Seventh Avenue was unexpected, given the opportunity to face Central Park across Fifty-ninth Street, but the greater extent of Seventh Avenue frontage permitted a larger outdoor space. while the detailin gof the limestone-clad Renaissance facades was not particularly elaborate, the building was well massed, culminating in a stubby tower in which two open and two closed handball courts wee located around a 42-by-62-foot solarium lit through quartz glass windows that opened to all compass points."

Robert A. M. Stern, Gregory Gilmartin and Thomas Mellins, "New York 1930, Architecture and Urbanism Between the Two World Wars," Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 1987.

Elizabeth Hawes, "New York, New York, How The Apartment House Transformed The Life of The City (1869-1930)," An Owl Book, Henry Holt and Company, New York 1993," provides the following commentary about the "Spanish Flats, designed by Hubert, Pirsson & Company, which had previously occupied the site.

"The same year the Chelsea opened [1883], the half-completed Central Park Apartments was already being proclaimed the most elegant apartment house in New York, the largest apartment house in the world, and the most important building project ever undertaken, in terms of its novelty, magnitude and cost. Designed by Hubert and Pirsson but also called the Navarro, or Spanish Flats, in reference to its building, José F. de Navarro, it occupied a half-block between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, from 58th to 59th Street. It stood eight stories tall, towers, gables, and turrets notwithstanding, and rising above the trees of the park, it looked like a fortress, or a whole Moorish kingdom. The Navarro was a single mass divided into eight separate apartment houses, which were arranged around a central courtyard and connected internally only on the first floor. Each house had a separate name and address - Navarro named them the Barcelona, the Salamanca, the Cordova, the Tolosa, the Grenada, the Valencia, the Madrid, and the Lisbon, after his favorite places - and each was distinguishable by an entrance of triple arches. Inside, each held twelve apartments of extraordinary dimensions. The largest provided a drawing room (23 by 29 feet), a reception room (14 by 29), dining room (20 by 23), kitchen (18 by 20) with several roomy pantries, six bedrooms ranging from 22 by 24 to 14 by 18, three baths with tubs, and three rooms for servants. It was munificent space, distinctly more generous than an entire three-story house. There were not ten houses in New York with such facilities for entertainments or occasions or ceremony, where public rooms opened onto one another, like the French nobleman's enfilade, and included a covered balcony that could be converted into a formal conservatory when necessary. The general design of the Navarro was even more impressive. Its suites were not only lavishly decorated but also ingeniously arranged into simplexes, duplexes, and triplexes (the first in the city), which were stacked up, in an interlocking scheme similar to Hubert's mezzanine plan, to occupy two stories in the front of the building and three in the rear. The taller and grander rooms on the main floor were set before the park vista, and the kitchen and bedrooms overlooked the interior courtyard, where there was quiet and an abundance of light and air. The courtyard of the Navarro was vast, 40 by 300 feet, a luxuriant space filled with trees, flowers and fountains. To ensure the flow of resh air there, and to harness the breezes that swept off the river and down across the park, Hubert had also incorporated open archways into his bulding, perforating its mass every second story between each of the eight sections with passageway that was loggialike, and decorative, as well as utilitarian. Beneath the courtyard another subterranean courtyard, accessible by means of a vehicular tunnel leading directly from the street, allowed carts and wagons to deliver their supplies and provisions and to remove garbage and ashes in a manner that was inaudible and invisible to tenants. It was the most original feture of Hubert's technical design, which also included an apparatus to create steam heat, a generator for electricity (electricity was as yet an independent and expensive proposition in the city and therore a luxury item in housing), and an artesia well to supply private water to the building. Ironically the Navarro was ill fated as a cooperative. As critics were extolling Hubert as an extraordinary architect of apartments, famous for 'striking a mean between profusion and parsimony,' the bank was foreclosing on his mortgage. It took over and completed the project as a complex of rental buildings, for only half of it was finished and functioning as a cooperative by 1885. Hubert's 'parsimony' was misplaced in this venture; his downfall wa a scheme by which he had planned to lease the land, temporarily to the building owners in order to limit their cash investments, an idea that was untenable in the face of construction costs that ranked as high as those for St. Patrick's Cathedral and the Plaza Hotel."