The Historic Wabash YMCA
3763 S. Wabash Ave.
Sat, Oct 14: 10am - 5pm
Sun, Oct 15: 10am - 5pm
Robert C. Berlin, 1913; Renovation: The Renaissance Collaborative, 2000
The historic Wabash YMCA, active between 1913 and 1970, played a vital role during the Great Migration of African Americans from the South to the North. As an orientation center, it provided lodging and employment connections, becoming a cultural epicenter for Chicago’s African-American community. With a peak attendance of 140,000 in 1922, the Y served as a meeting space for over 100 community groups. After a decline in memberships, it closed in 1969 but was later restored by The Renaissance Collaborative Inc. (TRC) and reopened in 2000.
The building features a marble staircase, community room, fitness room, swimming pool, billiard room and grand ballroom. The significance of the Wabash Y extends beyond its architectural charm. It offered African Americans a safe swimming place in racially tense times. Additionally, it was the founding location of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, which announced the first Negro History Week (now Black History Month) in 1926. The historic Wabash YMCA stands as a symbol of African-American heritage, community support, and cultural enrichment.
Guided tours of the entire building will be offered and will provide in-depth information about the historical significance and cultural heritage of each space. Visitors may also elect to engage with the site at their own pace.