Over the years, our YMCAs responded to the changing needs of our communities, serving men, women, boys and girls of all faiths, races, ages, abilities, and incomes.

Our beginnings

  • 1844—George Williams organizes the first YMCA in London to meet the practical and spiritual needs of young men relocating to London during the Industrial Revolution.
  • 1851—First U.S. YMCA opens in Boston
  • 1856—St. Paul YMCA founded
  • 1866—Minneapolis YMCA founded
  • 2012—Minneapolis and St. Paul YMCAs merge, forming the YMCA of the North

The Y was a driving force in several modern traditions

  • Inspired the formation of the U.S.O. Peace Corps and Father’s Day
  • Began the first night school and English as a Second Language courses
  • Invented group swimming lessons, basketball, volleyball and racquetball
  • Fostered America’s camping movement, starting in 1885

Learn more about the YMCA's history in the United States.