Lattof YMCA Opened Doors in 1961 to 30K at Open House
The pool was the main attraction when the recreational facility first opened.
The first splash was six years in the making. The rapidly growing Northwest Suburbs needed more recreational opportunities. As early as 1955, the committees had been formed, the site between Mount Prospect and Des Plaines had been selected, and fundraising kicked off.
Earlier: YMCA and library work together
The Northwest Suburban YMCA was an impressive facility, but the pool was the star of the show when it opened January 15, 1961. Nearly 30,000 visitors swamped the open house, an unprecedented show of interest. Fronting the corner of Northwest Highway and Cambridge, the YMCA swimming pool was the height of modernity, its massive glass panels inviting patrons in. Modern features included huge thermopane glass doors along the south wall that would open onto a patio in the summer, and underwater lighting.
The original building, a twin to the Elmhurst YMCA, also included a spacious lobby, a snack bar, a youth game room, an ample multipurpose room, multiple locker rooms, a steam room, a gymnasium with a floor designed special for roller skating, weight, excercise, and wrestling rooms, handball courts, and more.
While these was an impressive list of amenities, the YMCA continued to grow. A shallow pool was added in 1964, and in 1971, the Thomas M. Blake pool was added, further enhancing the facility. The pool, named for the chairman of the Northwest Suburban YMCA board from 1953-1960, !!!. In 1976, it cemented its status as World's Largest YMCA when a 12,000 square foot fieldhouse was added with four raquetball/handball courts and two basketball/tennis courts, plus volleyball courts, track, and spectator spaces. The raquetball and basketball courts were converted to an indoor soccer field and track as part of a renovation completed in 2005. In 1980, it was renamed Lattof YMCA for local car dealer and philanthropist Nicholas Lattof. In the 1990s, an Adventure Center was added, with climbing walls and rope courses, as well as an outdoor skate park.