|The YMCA: Center of Downtown
All photographs and articles courtesy of www.tricityy.com
Please visit their website to see our new YMCA and all it has to offer!
Basketball was first founded at a YMCA prior to the 1900's, and the Tri-City YMCA has
always been a popular place to play.
The old gym has been used for more than it's share of award ceremonies.
The Y has also been home to Karate, Judo and Boxing through the years.
Gymnasts are captured in this photo which labeled them as "Future Olympians" and
referred to Granite City as an "All American City"
Sports activities were not the only thing that went on at the YMCA. The building also a
hangout as well as a functioning hotel. People would rent rooms upstairs as sleeping
quarters while in town doing work. According to John Gages, currently a member of the
YMCA since 1938, "The Y was the place to be" says Gages, who recalls that the place
was buzzing with both teens & adults, from morning until night, 7 days a week. John has
been coming to the YMCA for over 6 decades. When asked why he has continued to
come for so long, John maintains a high degree of loyalty due to the policy held many
years ago (and still today) by the YMCA, and that policy is to not deny membership to
anyone who cannot afford it. Even if it meant that he had to go to work as a lifeguard or
referee a few basketball games in the gym, John was always at the Y and still is to this
During the 1950's and 60's, Teen Town was the big draw at the YMCA and it was the
happening place every Friday night. The local hot spot for kids to dance, listen to music
and socialize, it was the popular place to be. In the late 60's/ early 70's a relatively
unknown rock and roll band from Champagne, IL even played at the YMCA, rocking the
old building pretty good. That band? None other than REO Speedwagon, who would go
onto to bigger and better things as they exploded during the 1970's.
Also gaining in popularity at the YMCA was weightlifting. Several lifters during the 70's
gained national notoriety while coached by local lifting legend Curt Mathes. Curt and
several of his men are pictured to the right. Some of them included here are Mark Seago,
Dave Wilson, John Bruch, and Leeland Mathes
By the 80's, the need for the sleeping rooms on the upper floors had gone away and the
hotel part that the YMCA played came to an end. With the exception of being used as a
Haunted House at Halloween, the rooms were left almost untouched. One of the long
hallways can be seen in this photo taken in 2003.
In the 1990's, a powerlifting team was once again formed and competitions were even
held at the YMCA. Since then, in the spirit of the YMCA mission, the Powerlifting team
and Y members have raised funds to get almost 20 different lifters to National and
International competitions. Nationally, Y lifters have been Chicago, Ohio, New Jersey,
Louisiana, Texas, Indiana, Wisconsin and to far away places such as South Africa, Czech
Republic & Luxembourg for World Championships.
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