Chicago Central YMCA High School "Cardinals"

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                       The History of Chicago Central YMCA High School
 
Chicago (population 2.8 million) is located along the shores of Lake Michigan and is the third largest city in the United States, settled first as Fort Dearborn in 1803. From there, it grew and was incorporated as a city in 1837. Chicago attracted many immigrants during the second half of the 19th Century, even with the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, and was considered to have been the fastest growing city in the US during that 50-year period.

Those who wish to reach the "City of Big Shoulders" can do so by travelling on Interstates 55, 57, 90, and 94, along with various state and US highways, or taking train service into Union Station along the Chicago River with many carriers coming into the city daily, or by flying into Midway Airport or one of the busiest airports in the world, O'Hare International Airport.

The city is known for many things and its numerous celebrities, and was the starting point of the former US Route 66 for those heading West from the eastern part of the US. The Chicago and Des Plaines Rivers also flow in or near the city, and served as a port for barge traffic from those on the East Coast that wished to ship their goods to New Orleans by using the Illinois and Michigan Canal to connect with the Illinois River at LaSalle, then southward to the Mississippi River where it reached its destination.

Central YMCA High School started in 1867 at 19 South LaSalle Street  in the downtown district, having to rebuild twice within a seven-year period. The YMCA itself opened its first location in Chicago in 1853, and catered to many people with various interests. Here's a link to additional information about the school's early days: http://chsmedia.org/media/fa/fa/M-XYZ/YMCA-inv.htm.

Over a period of time, Central YMCA's reputation as a school grew, yet it stayed small in size. The school offered night classes and gave those students who felt they were not getting a quality education at schools closer to their homes a better chance to excel.

It is known that the school was in operation thru the mid-1970's, but a closing date has not been discovered. We are hoping that a graduate or someone who may have been familiar with the school's history to contact with us with those details, as well as current information about the location of the school.

 

QUICK FACTS ABOUT CENTRAL YMCA HIGH SCHOOL
 
Year opened:          1867
Year closed:           believed to be in the 1980's
School nickname:   Cardinals
School colors:        Red & White
School song:          unknown
 
 
EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
 
Central YMCA offered athletic activities for its students, and was a founding member of the Private School League, according to prep historian Robert Pruter. Central principal O.N. Wing helped create the conference in 1930 along with other smaller schools in Chicago like Luther Institute that were in need of forming a conference, some of which were not playing in the IHSA state tournament at the time.
 
 
BASKETBALL
 
Central YMCA won the Private School League title in 1931-32, but as an organization, Central YMCA made news as their heavyweight basketball team won the Central YMCA Mens' Basketball Championships three times from 1902-1908, with Basketball Hall of Famer John Schommer helping them win in 1905 & 1908. Schommer went on to attend the University of Chicago and was a Helms Foundation All-American three consecutive seasons (http://hoopedia.nba.com/index.php?title=John_Schommer). We would like to know more about the school's basketball program, so please contact us at the addresses listed below.
 
 
TRACK & FIELD
 
Thru the files of historian Robert Pruter, the school won a conference title in the spring of 1935. Again, more information is needed to tell us more about Central YMCA's thinclads, so please contact us.
NOTABLE ALUMNI OF CENTRAL YMCA HIGH SCHOOL
 
Mike Royko -- newspaper columnist, worked for the Chicago Daily News, Sun Times, and Tribune for over 30 years. Also authored the book "Boss" about the late Richard J. Daley, mayor of Chicago from 1955-76.
 
Mike Bloomfield -- Blues guitarist, made a name for himself as an instrumental artist during the late-1960's. Was a member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band (which later played at Woodstock in 1969), and was ranked by Rolling Stone as number 22 on the top 100 guitarists of all-time in a poll conducted in 2003 by the publication.
 
Barry Goldberg -- A close friend of Bloomfield, the guitarist was involved in the recording "Devil With A Blue Dress" by Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels in 1966, plus was involved in a couple of bands with Bloomfield. Goldberg has also been a record producer and (as of this writing in July 2012) was working on a documentary about the rock-blues influence of the 1960s'.
 
Robert Sengstacke -- A photographer by trade, he was also involved with the Chicago Defender, which is one of the last African-American daily newspapers and was founded by his great uncle John Sengstacke Abbott in 1905. His photos of Martin Luther King, Jr., Muhammad Ali, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others are known and have been featured in various compositions and with a periodical for the Nation of Islam, "Muhammad Speaks."
 
Gerald Mittelman -- A 30-yr veteran of the United States Air Force, his background in computer science helped the USAF develop warning systems for missles and space command to alert the U.S. government in the event of attack, and spent time with NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command).

Linda Leilani Brown -- Broadway actress, appeared in the show "Dreamgirls." More information about the show can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreamgirls.


MEMORIES

from "Duane:"

"I attended Central YMCA High School only in the summer of 1978. I had a class with Linda Leilani Brown (of Dreamgirls fame). Central YMCA was located on the southeast corner of Dearbon and Randolph, with the entrance next to the United Artists Theatre."  


 
DO YOU HAVE MORE INFORMATION....
 
about Central YMCA High School? Then we need your assistance! Photos, stories, information, and memories are welcome about this school of the not-distant past. Please contact us at dr.veeman@gmail.com or in writing at:
 
Illinois High School Glory Days
6439 North Neva
Chicago, IL  60631