Boys’ Club of NY leaving East Village

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Reflecting on a century of service following the impending sale of the Manhattan institution’s building on East 10th Street


  • The New York Boys Club’s Harriman Clubhouse on East 10th Street is being sold. Photo: Jim.henderson, via Wikimedia Commons

The close of each school year marks the end of a cycle. In June, students leave for the summer, and when they return in September, almost everything will be as they left it. For one East Village institution, however, this cycle is coming to a close. The Boys’ Club of New York’s original location, the Harriman Clubhouse on East 10th Street, will close its doors for good in June of 2019 after 119 years.

Last month, families with children registered for programming at the Harriman Clubhouse received their one-year notice in the mail. The announcement, a letter written by Boys’ Club Executive Director Stephen Tosh, follows news of the impending sale of the Harriman Clubhouse with a reassurance to parents that “we remain committed to your sons, and will continue to provide high quality programming on the Lower East Side after the building has closed.”

Tosh continued, “I am currently working to secure appropriate space for this purpose.” Whatever new locations or programs are established in Harriman’s place, he wrote, will continue to have the same wide range of content offerings, including “academic support, High School Access, physical education and sports, music and art, and leadership development.”

Tosh reminded families that the Boys’ Club’s locations in Harlem and Queens, which offer the same programs as Harriman, will remain open. Tosh also promised Harriman members exclusive weeks of sleepaway camp following the clubhouse’s 2019 closing.

“The sale,” he explained, “will allow us to provide services to an even greater number of boys and young men in more underserved communities.” While he stresses that services will remain available in the East Village, Tosh said that sale proceeds will allow the Boys’ Club to start new programs in “Brownsville, East New York, and/or the South Bronx,” all areas which face issues of poverty and crime similar to the East Village at the time of Harriman’s founding.

To say that the Harriman Clubhouse’s East Village surroundings have changed is certainly an understatement. Harriman predates even the name “East Village” by nearly a century. Then known as part of the Lower East Side, the area was a hub of poor European immigrants and tenement buildings throughout the late 19th and early 20th century. These days, however, you’re more likely to find a trendy restaurant or one of the many luxury condominium developments that pervade Manhattan construction.

Although there has been no official statement from the Boys’ Club on what may replace the Harriman Clubhouse, speculation is widespread. Speaking to, Alice Maggin, the Boys’ Club of New York’s director of communication said Harriman “is built like a bomb shelter — thick walls of concrete and steel — if it were to be knocked down it would be hugely expensive ... we’re hoping that it could become something for the area,” going on to suggest that the building be used for a number of purposes, such as an assisted living facility or a space for a local university.

Others are less optimistic, believing that the building will become just another luxury condo development. One Harriman staff member, who asked to remain anonymous, said matter-of-factly “that’s what happens to all the real estate around here.” While he acknowledged the building’s “bomb-shelter” construction, he didn’t see this as a guarantee that the building would be left intact or used for the community’s good. “You’d be surprised what a good architect can do.”

While the on the ground attitude at the Harriman Clubhouse is more business as usual than doom and gloom, this institution’s days are numbered. Change is coming, although the nature of the change is uncertain. A possible replacement building in Harriman’s place may not be completed and open until well into the 2020s. No matter what replaces it, the sale of the Harriman Clubhouse marks an end of an era for the boys of New York City.

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