Our History

Madison Square Boys & Girls Club was founded in 1884 to provide recreational and vocational programs to keep young people away from gang activity on the east side of Manhattan. Founded in a vacant store on First Avenue and 37th Street and operating as a mission of the Madison Square Church, the Club relocated within the community several times before becoming an organization independent of the church in 1902.

In the early years, trustees took turns opening the Club and supervising recreational and vocational programs which included crafts, dramatics, sports, lectures and trade classes. The Club operated in a variety of buildings including public schools, private houses and church basements until 1939, when Herbert Hoover, then Chairman of the National Association of Boys Clubs, opened our first youth dedicated facility at 29th Street in Manhattan.

Although girls participated in Club programs from the organization’s beginning, their involvement was limited, and Madison’s trustees were instrumental in founding the Girls Club of New York in recognition of the need for girls’ programs. In 1984 the Clubs were officially opened to all young people and the organization was renamed the Madison Square Boys & Girls Club.

Today the Club builds on more than a century of effective youth development in New York City’s most underserved communities and provides life-changing programs to thousands of young people each year.

Key Events:

  • 1884: Madison is founded to provide services to youth on the east side of Manhattan
  • 1902: Madison becomes an independent organization
  • 1939: Madison opens its first Clubhouse on 29th Street
  • 1954: Madison helps establish Boys Club of Queens
  • 1958: Madison opens the Freeman Street Boys Club in the Bronx
  • 1964: Ground is broken for a second Bronx Club, the Columbus Clubhouse, marking a ten-year period of organizational expansion
  • 1967: A fire that damaged the Freeman Street Boys Club leads to construction of a Clubhouse on Hoe Avenue in the Bronx, now the Joel E. Smilow Clubhouse
  • 1981: Madison acquires the Navy Yard Boys Club in Brooklyn
  • 1984: Madison changes its name to reflect the increased female participation in Club programs and becomes Madison Square Boys & Girls Club
  • 1989: Madison re-opens the doors of the Flatbush Boys Club in Brooklyn, now the Thomas S. Murphy Clubhouse
  • Today: Madison provides life-changing programming to thousands of New York City’s most underserved youth each year

Purchase Madison Square Memoir 

Learn a more detailed account of our history by purchasing a copy of
Madison Square Memoir: The Magic and History of the Madison Square Boys & Girls Club below.