American Youth Hostel occupies the former Association Residence for Respectable Aged Indigent Females (aka Association Residence for Women). The landmark is one of the three surviving New York buildings designed by Richard Morris Hunt, one of America’s leading architects of the nineteenth century.
The original structure – a home for destitute war widows – was extended in 1908; architect Charles A. Rich followed Hunt’s design for the exterior.
The building – rare as it is – came close to being demolished in 1974. Then known as the Association Residence Nursing Home or Association Residence for Women, the building was vacated with plans to demolish and rebuild. During the July 1977 blackout much of the roof was destroyed by fire. The following May, the City of New York acquired the building; in 1981 the roof was finally repaired.
American Youth Hostels purchased the building and began restoration in 1984; the hostel began operations in 1990. It is reportedly the world’s largest hostel, with more than 650 beds.
American Youth Hostel Vital Statistics
- Location: 891 Amsterdam Avenue at W 103rd Street
- Year completed: 1883 / 1908 (addition)
- Architect: Richard Morris Hunt / Charles A. Rich (addition)
- Floors: 4
- Style: Victorian Gothic
- New York City Landmark: 1983
- National Register of Historic Places: 1975
American Youth Hostel Recommended Reading
- Wikipedia entry
- NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission designation report
- The New York Times ARCHITECTURE VIEW; Three New York City Success Stories (July 22, 1990)
- CTA Architects project page (restoration architects)
- The New York Sun A Landmark Hostel, the World’s Biggest, Gets a Makeover (April 17, 2008)