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The Most Exclusive Members-Only Clubs In Manhattan
The island of Manhattan is home to the greatest concentration of private clubs in this country, and no, we are not talking about the velvet-roped club doors of the Meatpacking District.
These elite institutions date back to early nineteenth century, modeled after the gentlemen’s clubs of London and retain the codes of behavior from that era.
The buildings are reverent but nondescript, the fees are astronomical, and the dress code is de rigueur.
Here are 7 members-only clubs, where the upper echelon of New York Society can freely mix business with pleasure.
The Union Club of the City of New York
The first private social club to claim Manhattan was The Union Club, established in 1836 in a landmark building known for opulence and details including five dining rooms, a humidor with 100,000 cigars, card room, library, lounge, and squash courts.
Location:East 69th Street and Park Avenue
Membership: This club is thought of as the most exclusive of the social clubs, even refusing admission to the sons of some prominent members. However, they remained fiercely loyal, refusing to expel their Confederate members during the Civil War.
Notable Members: Cornelius Vanderbilt, William Randolph Heart, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Ulysses S. Grant.
The Century Association
The Century Association was established in 1847 by William Cullen Bryant, a poet and long-time editor of the New York Evening Post to promote interest in the fine arts and literature. Consequently, the clubhouse, which is also the oldest surviving, is home to a notable art collection and acts as a venue for the contemporary art pieces of their members. The clubhouse also contains the Century Center for the Performing Arts, a 248 seat theater, ballroom, and studio.
Location: 43rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue
Membership: The club intended to have only 100 men who were artists, literary men, scientists, physicians, officers of the Army and Navy, members of the Bench, Engineers, Clergymen, and merchants, but those restrictions evolved to consist of mainly businessmen, lawyers, and doctors, and then women in 1988.
Notable Members:Fredrick Law Olmsted (designer of Central Park), Franklin D. Roosevelt, Mayor Bloomberg, Jackie Onassis, and Toni Morrison.
The Brook Club
The Brook Club is one of the final clubs to retain its status as a private gentlemen’s club. It was founded in 1903 by dissatisfied members of the Union Club and the Metropolitan Club. Legend tells, however, that it was formed by two young men who were expelled from the Union Club for trying to poach on egg on the head of a bald club member. The club is so exclusive, it’s nearly impossible to find a photo of the inside…
Location: 111 East 54th Street
Membership: Aside from only accepting men, The Brook accepts only those with a large international presence.
Notable Members: John F. Kennedy, Fred Astaire, and Michael Bloomberg.