Membership dues are in the thousands of dollars, clubhouses are often unmarked, membership lists kept top secret. The New York Social Club is still going strong after 174 years, unhurt by recessions, depressions, and even (gasp) the admittance of women. Some of the clubs aren't so secret anymore, but that doesn't make it any easier to obtain membership...
The Metropolitan Club
1 E 60th St, New York, NY 10022. The Metropolitan Club, at 60th Street and 5th Avenue, was started in 1891 by J.P. Morgan as a protest against the exclusive clubs that would not allow one of his friends to join.
Annual membership is said to cost $5,000, and members have included Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, and Salman Rushdie. Though the club was rare in allowing access to women, the ladies were relegated to a special annex until the 1940s. Formal dress (jackets and ties) is required to this day. http://www.metropolitanclubnyc.org
The Harmonie Club
4 E 60th St, New York, NY 10022. Founded in 1852, the Harmonie Club was originally a singing and dining association for New Yorkers of German Jewish descent. The club is currently located in a grand building on E. 60th Street. Amenities include squash courts, private dining, and a barber shop.
Today, it has around 1,000 members, most of whom are Jewish.
Mayor Bloomberg famously resigned from the Harmonie Club in 2001 in protest of the club's lack of diversity. https://www.harmonieclub.org
The Grolier Club
47 E 60th St, New York, NY 10065. Founded in 1884, the Grolier Club of New York is America's oldest and largest society for bibliophiles and enthusiasts in the graphic arts. Named for Jean Grolier, the Renaissance collector renowned for sharing his library with friends, the Club's objective is to foster "the literary study and promotion of the arts pertaining to the production of books."
The Club maintains a research library on printing and related book arts, and its programs include public exhibitions, lectures and other events, as well as a long and distinguished series of publications. http://www.grolierclub.org
The Knickerbocker Club:
The Knickerbocker Club, is a gentlemen's club in New York City. Its current location, a neo-Georgian structure at 2 East 62nd Street, was commissioned in 1913. It was designed by William Adams Delano and Chester Holmes Aldrich. The Knickerbocker Club, informally known as "The Knick," was founded in 1871 by several former members of the Union Club, who thought that group's admission standards had fallen too low. The club now occupies a brick building on 62nd Street and 5th Avenue.
The club at one point considered rejoining with the Union Club, but that plan never took shape.
The highly exclusive group is still men-only.
The Colony Club (pictured above)
564 Park Avenue or 51 East 62nd Street,The Colony Club is a women-only club located at Park Avenue and 62nd Street. It was founded in 1903 and members have included numerous Whitneys, Morgans, and Astors. The fee to join in 1903 was $150 with $100 in annual dues.
New members looking to get in must be recommended by current members, but once you get in, the Colony is known for its lush interior design, pool, and sulfur and mud baths. In recent times memorial services for two top New York society ladies -- Brooke Astor and Nan Kempner -- were held at the Colony Club.
The Union Club of New York
701 park Avenue, E. 69th St. The second oldest club in New York, the Union Club was founded in 1836 and has been located in a prominent spot at 69th St. and Park Avenue ever since. Like the Metropolitan, annual fees are set at $5,000, though this place keeps to a no-girls-allowed policy for its members.
They have included Dwight Eisenhower, Ulysses Grant, William Randolph Hearst, John Jacob Astor IV, and Harold Vanderbilt.
The Links Club
36 E 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. The Links Club is located on 36 East 62nd Street in New York City between Madison and Park avenues. It is housed in a stunning four-story Georgian townhouse with a mansard roof that was built in 1890. The Links Club was founded by Charles Blair Macdonald and his friends in 1916. C.B. Macdonald was one of the founders of the U.S.G.A. and the founder of the National Golf Links of America (ranked #20 in the world). The objectives of The Links Club are "...to promote and conserve throughout the United States the best interests and true spirit of the game of golf as embodied in its ancient and honorable traditions, endorsing the rules of the game as it is played in Scotland and as adopted by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews."
The Lotos Club
5 E 66th St, New York, NY 10065. The Lotos Club is a gentleman's club in New York City. Founded in 1870 by a young group of writers and critics, Mark Twain, an early member, called it the "Ace of Clubs". The club was named tongue-in-cheek for the forgetfulness of care exhibited by the Lotos-Eaters of the Odyssey; it takes its motto from Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem "The Lotos-Eaters" http://www.lotosclub.org/
The Cosmopolitan Club
The Cosmopolitan Club is a private club located at 122 East 66th Street, between Park and Lexington Avenues. The Cosmopolitan Club, approaching its centennial in 2009, has had three differentheadquarters, has modified its name several times and undergone many other changes, but has always retained its original purpose: to provide fun for serious women, and tooffer the widest of intellectual hospitality and congenial companionship in an attractive gathering place.www.cosclub.com