Highlighting Staten Island

Staten Island South Shore YMCA

3939 Richmond Ave
Staten Island, NY 10312


On Staten Island, youth programs had been attempted without success in the 1930's, until citizens set up a summer day camp and four Hi-Y clubs in 1946. Serving both boys and girls, these programs were so effective that a Staten Island YMCA branch was organized in early 1947. Out of modest rented quarters near the St. George ferry terminal, the YMCA's work began in small communities such as New Dorp, Mariners Harbor, and Tottenville, with Hi-Y, youth clubs, and an extensive day camp program. By summer 1953, with a permanent staff of four, the branch accommodated 600 day campers in 29 camps in local communities. In the YMCA Centennial year of 1952, the Staten Island Branch acquired a 2.5-acre parcel at 651 Broadway, located across from the Staten Island Zoo. A century-old stone homestead on the property served as temporary headquarters until 1957, when a modern YMCA building was opened. Post-War Staten Island was the fastest-growing borough in New York, composed mostly of middle-income families, and branch programs were designed for the entire family. The low-rise facility, quite different in appearance from Ys built in the 1920's and 1930's, included a gym, pool and outdoor playgrounds. It cost more than $500,000, with 80 percent allocated from a Centennial Fund Campaign, which had aimed to raise $20 million for expansion in new areas of Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island.

As the island's population grew with the completion of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in 1964, membership nearly quadrupled from 1,430 to 4,600 from 1960 to 1970. In response to this population boom, the Y began expanding programming for residents at New Brighton and South Shore. In 1974, the branch launched a full-scale extension of its services as a YMCA-YWCA program on the South Shore and relocated its New Brighton program and staff to Markham Houses in partnership with the New York City Housing Authority.  In 1976, the Y completed a $1 million expansion of its Broadway building that included a new gym, lockers, classrooms, and three tennis courts. The renovations were popular: membership doubled within the year to 9,000.

In the 1980's, the Y launched a substance abuse program in Staten Island aimed at helping children of substance abusers, recovering adults, and young people in the juvenile justice system. State funds were awarded for the creation of new center on Richmond Avenue, which opened in 1999 as the YMCA Counseling Service center.

More recently, in 1991, the Staten Island Y became coordinator for the Senior Olympics. As membership grew continuously in this primarily residential borough, the branch retained strong operations at the Broadway Center while also offering programs on the South Shore. The branch set about raising $1.7 million to build a second YMCA there, and in 1997 it opened a sleek modern facility -- the first completely new building in the YMCA of Greater New York network in 30 years. In 2011, the Staten Island YMCA was selected as a winner of the "Best Companies to Work for on Staten Island" by the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation.

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