On Tuesday, November 7, 2023 Marla Itzkin, the Associate Director for Communications and Development of the Westfield Area Y, spoke to the Rotary Club of Westfield about the history of the Y in Westfield over the past 100 years.


The Rotary Club of Westfield was 3 years old when the Y Board decided to build the structure on Clark Street. The Rotary Club helped raise the funds to build the Y, and met there for probably about 80 years. The Rotary Club has a close relationship to the Y, and provides community grants to them every year.

The service area for the Westfield Area Y includes Westfield, Garwood, Mountainside and Cranford. They are currently developing a Cranford YMCA. No one with financial hardship is turned away due to inability to pay. The Y strengthens our community through 3 areas of impact: youth development; healthy living; and social responsibility.


Here are some highlights of the history of the Westfield Y:

1921 Rotary Club of Westfield established

1923 Established the YMCA Board of Director and Trustees.

1924 Acquired the land on Clark Street for $18,000.

1929 New building is dedicated with a pool and bowling alley

1930 YWCA established for women and girls

1931 Bowling League is formed

1943 Most numbers and staff are serving in the Military, the building relied on part time help of teachers and salesmen

1947 Y’s Men club first annual Christmas Tree Sale

1950 Day Camp begins

1960 Wallace Pool opens

1965 Bill Bradley dedicates gymnasium

1970 Y offers dog obedience classes

1973 50th annual Dinner held at Shackamaxon Country Club

1975 First woman joins the Board of Directors

1982 First preschool opens

1985 Consolidation of YMCA and YWCA

1989 Major renovations`

1990’s Single rooms on third floor phased out

1991 Child Care at Elm Street begins

1993 Weldon Room added

2005 Bauer Branch opens in former Christian Science Church

2009 Programs begin at Cranford Community Center

2010’s Capital improvement to upgrade main facility

2011 Camp and after school in Mountainside

2012 Garwood Family Center opens

2020 COVID shuts Y down for 2 ½ months

2022 Pioneer Camp begins in Cranford

2023 Membership is 8,500 members


The first Y appeared in London in 1844, when a farmer started a place for young men to seek escape from pressing social challenges. The first American Y was established in 1851 at the Old South Church in Boston. Then YMCAs sprang up all over the country. Now the YMCA serves 2 million people in the United States, and 65 million in 120 countries.


The Y has many firsts: the invention of Basketball in 1891; Volleyball in 1895; Racquetball in 1950; Hallmark cards; the Negro Baseball League; Father’s Day; Night School; Adult Education; and Work- Study programs.  The YMCA and YWCA helped start the USO in WWII.


In 1946 the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to John Mott, a leader of the Y movement in America, for increasing global understanding and humanitarian efforts.


The Rotary Club of Westfield meets the first three Tuesdays of each month for lunch at noon, at Limani Seafood Grill on North Ave. Guests are always welcome. For information check out the website www.westfieldrotary.com  or contact club secretary Dr. D. Michael Hart by email at drmhart@yahoo.com

Photo: Left to right:

Marla Itzkin, Y Associate Director of Communication & Development, and Rotary Club President Elect Lauren Barr. They are holding historical photos of the Westfield YMCA.