24 Avenue D and 888 East Sixth Street

The Boys and Girls Republic at 888 East 6th Street, between Avenue D and the East River, is part of the Lillian Wald Houses, a New York City Housing Authority complex named in honor of the founder of Henry Street Settlement. This complex was part of the city’s post-war effort to bring affordable housing to the residents of the Lower East Side community.

Originally known as the Boys Brotherhood Republic, the program was modeled after a Chicago social service movement founded in 1912. In 1930, Mayor LaGuardia was meeting with his staff to discuss possible solutions to the juvenile delinquent problems in the area. A member of his staff told him about the successful Chicago program, and the New York City Boys Brotherhood Republic was founded.

In 1954, ex-Marine and decorated veteran Ralph Hittman assumed the directorship of the club, and began the fundraising efforts he needed to keep his promise of building a new center with “the best basketball gymnasium in lower Manhattan.” With the support of Brooke Astor and The Astor Foundation, Mr. Hittman approached Housing Authority officials and together they decided that a parking lot on East Sixth Street was the most suitable place for construction.

Architects Holden, Egan and Corser designed the new split-level building. With an impressive granite façade, a row of single sash second-level windows and the name of the program boldly engraved across the front with a massive eagle on the back façade, the building remains today a prominent structure within the community. At the opening ceremony, Mayor John V. Lindsay dedicated the building, making it the first structure built with private funds on property owned by New York City. In 1998, the Boys Brotherhood Republic became a program of Henry Street Settlement and was re-named the Boys and Girls Republic, opening this valuable resource to all the youth of the community.

Also located in the Lillian Wald Houses, the Henry Street Settlement Workforce Development Welcome Center occupies 24 Avenue D. At the intersection of East Third Street and Avenue D, the space is at street level in a six-story multi-building development. The space was originally designed as a community resource center. The Workforce Development Center moved its main office to 99 Essex Street in 2003, but still maintains this community satellite facility.