"If you have to ask how much it costs, you can't afford it." This was said to be J. P. Morgan's view of yachting. A 19th-century financier and predecessor of sorts to the Federal Reserve Bank, Morgan became commodore of the New York Yacht Club in 1897. His wealth is reflected in the interiors of the clubhouse he commissioned four years later.
Morgan purchased three land-locked lots on Manhattan's West 44th Street in 1898, donated them to the club, doubled the club's dues, and selected the design architects Whitney Warren and Charles Wetmore. Stanford White secretly acted as Morgan's construction manager. The design program demanded a grand room for the display of models, a dining room, a grille room, a score of bedrooms for overnight visitors, a chart room and library, and a display room for an ornate silver urn that literally cannot hold water because it was cast without a bottom. This is the America's Cup trophy, which the club relinquished to Australia in 1983.
In 2002, the New York Yacht Club's midtown Manhattan neighbors include the Algonquin Hotel and the Harvard Club. The nearest yacht mooring is three miles (five kilometers) to the south, at Battery Park City's North Cove near the former World Trade Center. And the clubhouse is closer to the commuter trains at Grand Central Terminal — another Warren and Wetmore design — than to any boats or salt water.
From Manhattan, New York City