The plans were prepared by the Architectural Bureau of the National Council of the YMCA and designed under the supervision of architect James C. Mackenzie, Jr.
This branch was the successor to the "Colored Men's Branch" of the YMCA, located on West 53rd Street between 1901 and 1919, and the West 135th Street Branch YMCA, built in 1918-19 at No. 181, across the street from the later building.
The 135th Street Branch YMCA, partially funded by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Julius Rosenwald, and the Phelps-Stokes Fund, was called at the time of its completion the largest such facility for African-American men and boys, as well as one of the best-equipped YMCA buildings, in the United States.
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