The YMCA in Brooklyn, New York, founded in 1853, initially met in a series of churches throughout the County of Kings. In 1885 the Brooklyn YMCA dedicated its first purpose-built building, at 502 Fulton Street. The new building included the first YMCA facility swimming pool. The branch boasted other athletic “firsts”: In 1896 its basketball team participated in the first professional game against the Trenton, New Jersey, YMCA, and the branch also hosted the first national YMCA swimming championships.
In 1915, the Brooklyn Association dedicated its new Central building, known as "the largest YMCA in the world." Located on the block bordered by Hason Place, Fort Greene Place, and South Elliott Place, the building project was funded by generous gifts from donors such as Mrs. William Van Rensselaer Smith, members of the Pratt family, and John D. Rockefeller. In addition to building the new Central branch, the Brooklyn Association purchased a new site for the Twenty-sixth Ward branch and began fundraising for an expanded Prospect Park branch at the same time.
In the years following World War I, the Brooklyn Association expanded its focus beyond its roots, conducting Americanization programs targeted at immigrants, most of whom were not evangelical Protestants. In 1924, the association changed its name to the Brooklyn and Queens YMCA to reflect the branch's expansion into the neighboring borough. In 1957 the Brooklyn and Queens YMCA merged with the New York YMCA to become the YMCA of Greater New York.
After weathering some tough financial storms during the Depression, the Central branch ended the 20th century operating from a storefront in Brooklyn Heights. In 2005, however, the branch was reborn in a new building on Atlantic Avenue, funded in part by a significant grant from the Dodge Family Foundation, and the branch name officially changed its name to the Dodge branch of the YMCA of Greater New York.
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