Lawson YMCA in Chicago

Photo of Lawson YMCA in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Lawson YMCA in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
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Photo of Lawson YMCA in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Lawson YMCA in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Lawson YMCA in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Lawson YMCA in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Lawson YMCA in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation

Chicago, Illinois

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Lawson YMCA
Official name:Victor F. Lawson YMCA House

30 West Chicago Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, Gold Coast 60610
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method='post' action='/Building.php?ID=1622#Rate'>Current rating:50% 60%  name='Rating' id='Rating' value='Praise' class='Plain'> name='Rating' id='Rating' value='Raze' class='Plain'>
Your Thoughts

There are 11 comments.

  All YMCAs in our country are small and quite places bult mostly in the 60s and 70s, This is very different from the image we have of the institution, this is really powerful- great

R Ray - Monday, October 31st, 2016 @ 10:32pm  

  I lived at the Lawson in two summers, 1958 and 1959 when I was a student and had a summer job at Teletype Corp., 1400 Wrightwood Ave. Really fine experience; I especially appreciated the amateur radio club and the people who gathered around it. And was very convenient to take the subway to and from work. And to walk or ride downtown and experience being in a great city.

Jim Haynes - Tuesday, October 27th, 2015 @ 3:12pm  

  I lived at the Lawson YMCA, on the 12th floor, during the Spring and Summer of 1954. It was a marvelous experience... There were chess classes, telescope making classes, dances, and many other activities.I was very sorry to hear how the building and the institution has eroded. It probably reflects the general erosion of our entire society as poorly educated and drug dependent people overwhelm the city's streets.

erci.lor - Sunday, November 2nd, 2014 @ 3:57pm  

  I got out of Stateville prison in apr. 1962 and was accepted to live at Lawson. It was a great place to stay and I remained there until I got married. Nobody bothered anybody. I ate downstairs in the restaurant almost every day and the food and prices were great. The whole place was kept in very good shape and I'm sorry to hear it has become neglected. My stay there remains a good memory of my past.

bob s. - Monday, June 24th, 2013 @ 3:43pm  

  I stayed there, once, an Easter weekend in 1967. There was a march against the Vietnam War that weekend, Dr. Spock and I don't recall who else. I was a mere high school kid but the place was good and I so very much respect all the kind words people wrote about this place. It did save many lives and, unfortunately, in the early 80's the roof was, well, a place people would go to meet their Maker; God bless their souls they must have hurt so much. I pray the place stays open and saves more lives.

gerald spencer - Thursday, June 13th, 2013 @ 8:29pm  

  I was new to Chicago and needed a place to live and the Ymca Emergency Housing Project located inside the ymca took me in and it was a godsent blessing to be taken care of by so many good people who taught me to live on my own and give back to society. - Friday, October 12th, 2012 @ 5:15am  

  As a student and former resident of Lawson YMCA Chicago, I have never had any problems. Please stop with the STEREOTYPES AND ASSUMPTIONS. Everyone who lives there are NOT drug addicts or mental cases. I am sure there are some people who live there with problems, but not EVERYONE. You should NOT negatively judge hundreds of people because of what a few have done. Low income housing at Lawson YMCA helps a lot of clean, sane, respectable people.

Get Real - Wednesday, July 20th, 2011 @ 6:11am  

  Three stars is a generous rating for this structure in it's current state of repair. I also stayed in the facilty in the 80's and possibly earlier, and it has changed quite a bit since that time. Sadly, a number of details which made it innovative and extraordinary have been abandonded by the current administration who seem to be operating on a run it into the ground design. The swimming pools, gyms, food services and original office areas have long since disappeared from public use. The facilty remains an important, but miserable lifeline for many decent folk just trying to stay in the city which they have called home for in many cases, all of their lives. Any one that lives in Chicago knows that there is no interest in protecting affordable, decent housing even in older lifeline hotels, such as this was. Most of these have long since been sold to major chains such as the Marriot, becoming $173 a night suites where once a blue collar person might be living for $55 a week. Like many of the remaining transient hotels, there is no longer any city oversight evident. Is it any surprise that bedbugs are becoming rampant in this city, as they are now at the Lawson? The fact that most of the other smaller out of date buildings on the block are owned by the same neglectful owner, that they are frequently 'offices' for criminal elements, should not be overlooked. I would suppose that this serves that owner's needs quite well as when this block is cleared you will have available one of the last remaining and most valuable blocks in the whole city. It will be a financial bonanza.But at what loss? Underneith everything, this is still one of the most amazingly beautiful structures in the city. The designers were both amazingly ahead of their time and correctly idealistic. To ignore their original intentions for this structure and the people it was intended for would amount to a serious loss that could never be accounted for in dollars. Walking away from these intentions shows the general cowardice of this city and even private institutions who stand up less and less for those who have no one to stand up for them. The Chicagoans that have lived here and do live there at this moment are worthy of better.The need for low cost, transitional housing is of a permanent necessity for every city, It is not a fad for certain decades. People that are poor are not criminals. People that treat them as such hoping they will go away are, and the results of such treatment are predictable and well-deserved.This is one case where the only honorable thing Chicago should do is assist in restoring and preserving this facilty in accordance with it's original use. It's time not to just consider the architectural structure of a place but the contents for which it was made as worth protecting. God bless my neighbors at the YMCA.

Dan Reriro - Sunday, May 9th, 2010 @ 6:14am  

  Also lived at the Lawson in the early 70's......First place on my own and as others have said....was a "God Send" at the time.....Rent was daily/weekly and affordable...Had to hock my 12 inch B/W TV every now n then to be able to come up with the rent, but management was always kind about it....Restaurant down stairs was also decent and cheap......Place was very gay (if you were so inclined, especially in th e70's) and the place had a roach problem so you had to check your clothes really good before you went out ever day...............but again....the place gave many a guy somewhere to call his own and a safe haven from the rough streets below.......Dont regret the time I spent there at all.......and in many ways am greatful it was there..It was part of my life for 9months or so and contirbuted to the man I am today.....In closing...I sned a hello with fond rememberances of all those I knew up there on the north side during those years....I know many of you are probably gone now.....but you are all remembered...........Dean R........

Dean - Saturday, November 29th, 2008 @ 5:34pm  

  The Lawson YMCA was a Godsend when I really needed one. I was working at Wesley Memorial Hospital (now Northwestern Medical Center). My former room mates on the Northside were all heading in different directions and i needed a place to lice...QUICK. The YMCA was there only blocks from work, and the price was right. There some very strange residents living there at that time. But I didn't bother them, and they didn't bother me. All-in-all, I'd still rate it at a 6+.

I was a resident in the early 70's - Sunday, July 6th, 2008 @ 11:12am  

  Back in 1967 i was a resident of the chicago street ymca. I just graduated high school in gillespie il and was goint to ray vogue, and was working at voge wright.

Barry Bowles - Thursday, April 5th, 2007 @ 3:28pm