Place

Wabash Avenue YMCA

Large brick building.
Wabash Avenue YMCA

Photo by Andrew Jameson, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11331404

Quick Facts

The Wabash Avenue YMCA was a major social and educational center in the Black Metropolis, the center of Chicago's African American community in the early 1900s. Funds for its construction came from Julius Rosenwald, chairman of Sears, Roebuck and Company. Rosenwald was also known for funding the construction of schools for African American children throughout the South. In addition to financially supporting the center on Wabash Avenue, Rosenwald also funded other YMCAs throughout the country. Rosenwald Residents of the community also raised over $20,000 for the building’s construction. Soon after its completion in 1913, the YMCA became a place where African Americans could obtain an education and job training. Around this time, many African Americans fled the racial violence and discrimination prevalent in the South and sought new opportunities in Chicago. The Wabash Avenue YMCA became a place where they could find resources and build communities.  

Designed by Robert C. Berlin, the five-story brown-pressed brick building is trimmed with buff Bedford limestone. The YMCA spans five bays wide on Wabash Avenue and 10 bays long on 38th Street. The interior houses an auditorium, a swimming pool, meeting rooms, classrooms, and residential quarters. In 1945, an addition was constructed onto the south side of the building.

The Wabash Avenue YMCA was closed in the 1970s as businesses and residents moved out of the district.

The Wabash Avenue YMCA is located at 3763 S. Wabash Ave. and is not open to the public. 

Discover more history and culture by visiting the Chicago travel itinerary.