May 23, 2012
Public Clubs Once Ruled New York
Will Gens' piece on the state of New York squash is a reminder of how exciting it was to be a player in Manhattan in the late 70s and early 80s, when public clubs were exploding on the scene.
First, you had the granddaddy of them all, the Fifth Avenue Racquet Club, at 37th and 5th, with 7 courts.
Next was The Uptown Racquet Club on East 86th Street, the site of numerous memorable events and near non-stop action. Uptown had 14 courts and was truly the place to be.
Then there was Broad Street, at the bottom of the island, new and sleek and boasting 10 courts.
You had the Manhattan Squash Club on 42nd Street, upstairs overlooking Bryant Park. Manhattan had 10 courts.
Lincoln arrived on the scene on the west side, with 8 courts.
Park Avenue popped up on East 34th Street with 10 courts.
Then you had the Doral Inn on Lexington with 3 courts, Park Place near City Hall with 3 courts, and First Avenue on the east side with 3 courts.
That is 68 courts, just at the public clubs!
You had the top pros training at the public clubs, celebrities were running around, and the clubs hosted major events such as the North American Open.
The announcement that the final Lincoln courts are being converted to fitness studios just about closes the door on an era in Manhattan, but any player who lived through it won't forget it.