Union Club of the City of New York

Coordinates: 40°46′09″N 73°57′53″W / 40.7691°N 73.9647°W / 40.7691; -73.9647
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Union Club of the City of New York
Formation1836 (1836)
TypePrivate social club
Coordinates40°46′09″N 73°57′53″W / 40.7691°N 73.9647°W / 40.7691; -73.9647

The Union Club of the City of New York (commonly known as the Union Club) is a private social club in New York City that was founded in 1836. The clubhouse is located at 101 East 69th Street on the corner of Park Avenue, in a landmark building designed by Delano & Aldrich that opened on August 28, 1933.

The Union Club is a private club in New York City. It is the second oldest "city club" in the United States, after the Philadelphia Club, and is the fifth oldest "private club" in the United States,[1] after the South River Club in Annapolis, Maryland (between 1700 and 1732), the Schuylkill Fishing Company in Andalusia, Pennsylvania (1732), the Old Colony Club in Plymouth, Massachusetts (1769),[2] and the Philadelphia Club in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1834). The Union Club is considered one of the most prestigious clubs in New York City.

Clubhouse at 101 East 69th Street


The club's main entrance

The current building is the club's sixth clubhouse and the third built specifically for the members. The prior two clubhouses were at Fifth Avenue and 21st Street, occupied from 1855 to 1903; and on the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and 51st Street, a limestone clubhouse occupied from 1903 to 1933.

In 1927, club members voted to move uptown, to a quieter and less crowded location.[3] They hired architects William Adams Delano and Chester Holmes Aldrich—who had previously designed buildings for the Knickerbocker Club, the Brook Club, and the Colony Club—to design their new clubhouse.[4] The Union moved to its current location in 1933. The building is known for its opulence and idiosyncratic details. At one point the building featured five dining rooms and a humidor with 100,000 cigars.[4] Notable rooms include the card room, the backgammon room, the library, and the lounge (off the squash courts).[4]


The Union Club was founded in 1836 at a meeting held at the home of John McCrackan at 1 Bond Street, and was considered "the most thoroughly aristocratic private institution in the city."[5] The Union Club has been referred to as the "Mother of Clubs" because it was from the Union Club and its membership that many other private clubs in New York and elsewhere have sprung.[6][7][8][9] From the beginning, the Union Club was known for its strongly conservative principles. During the Civil War, the club refused to expel its Confederate members, despite taking a strong line on suppressing anti-draft riots. This policy led some members of the Union to leave and form the Union League Club of New York.[4]

In 1891, the Metropolitan Club was founded by J.P. Morgan as a direct answer to the Union Club, after many of Morgan's friends were denied entry to the Union Club.[10]

In 1903, The Brook was founded by some prominent members of the Union Club (as well as some members of other New York City private clubs, such as the Knickerbocker Club and Metropolitan Club).[11]

In 1918, the Union began using women waitresses to free male employees for service related to World War I.[1] This was the first time women were officially allowed entrance to the previously male-only enclave.

In 1932, the Union Club boasted 1,300 members.[4] By the 1950s, urban social club membership was dwindling, in large part because of the movement of wealthy families to the suburbs. In 1954, Union Club membership had declined to 950 members. In 1959, the Union Club and the Knickerbocker Club considered merging the Union's 900 men with The Knick's 550 members, but the plan never came to fruition.[4]

The Union Club is one of the few places where the game of bottle pool is still popular.[12]

In popular culture[edit]

Notable members[edit]


War records[edit]

More than 300 members of the Union Club joined the U.S. military services during World War II. In 1947, the club published Union Club World War II Records 1940 - 1947, recording the military accomplishments of those members who served during the War and who chose to participate in the project.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Waitresses at Union Club", The New York Times (June 19, 1918)
  2. ^ Old Colony Club website
  3. ^ Pennoyer, Peter and Walker, Anne. The Architecture of Delano & Aldrich (W.W. Norton, 2003).
  4. ^ a b c d e f Gray, Christopher. "Inside the Union Club, Jaws Drop," New York Times (Feb. 11, 2007).
  5. ^ Homberger, Eric (2002). Mrs. Astor's New York: Money and Social Power in a Gilded Age. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 86. ISBN 0-300-09501-5.
  6. ^ Waugh, John (1997). Reelecting Lincoln: The Battle For The 1864 Presidency. Cambridge, MA: Hachette Books. p. 87. ISBN 0-306-81022-0.
  7. ^ Hutto, Richard (2006). Their Gilded Cage: The Jekyll Island Club Members. Macon, GA: Henchard Press Ltd. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-9770912-2-5.
  8. ^ "The Union Club; MOTHER OF CLUBS: The History of the Union Club of the City of New York, 1836–1936". The New York Times. August 16, 1936. Retrieved January 18, 2022.
  9. ^ Townsend, Reginald (1936). Mother of Clubs: Being the First Hundred Years of the Union Club of the City of New York, 1836–1936. Union Club.
  10. ^ Nevius, James (June 17, 2015). "The Rise and Fall of New York City's Private Social Clubs". Curbed: New York. Retrieved January 19, 2022.
  11. ^ "New Club is Launched," The New York Times (April 2, 1903).
  12. ^ Hurt III, Harry. "Executive Pursuits; Billiards With a Bottle. And This Game Is Dying?," New York Times (Aug. 26, 2006).
  13. ^ a b c d e f g Davis, Dudley; Cassard, Morris Jr.; Curtin, Enos W.; Hoyt, Colgate; Jaques, George W.; Leary, Lamar R., eds. (1947). Union Club World War II Records 1940 - 1947. New York, New York: Union Club of the City of New York, Inc.
  14. ^ a b Men of America: A Biographical Dictionary of Contemporaries, edited by John William Leonard, New York: L.R. Hamersly, 1908, p. 424.
  15. ^ Railroad Age Gazette, Volume 46, Chicago, Jan 1909, p. 529

External links[edit]