About the Y

Our History


Thirteen years after the City of Birmingham was founded, community leaders established the YMCA.

Temporary housing was available at the original downtown location along with classes in mathematics, shorthand, as well as a reading room and library. As many as ten religious services were held each week.

By 1936, community outreach had spread from West End to Glen Iris. As a result, the first branch was built at Five Points South in 1940.

A branch for black members, organized in 1937, was built in 1951. Suburban branches followed: Northeast and Shades Valley were built in 1962, Fourth Avenue West in 1970, and the original Shelby County branch in 1973.

Conceived in 1922 as a complete outdoor recreational center, Camp Cosby moved to its Alpine, Alabama site in 1972.

Summer of 2005 would prove to be the single biggest leap for the Metropolitan Birmingham YMCA when the association purchased four branches of SportsFirst from Baptist Health Systems. The communities surrounding the Greystone,  Mountain Brook, and Trussville branches remain vital service areas for the Y.  At the end of the year, the Five Points Family Branch closed to member service and was used for transition while the Downtown Youth Center was being completed.

Following the association’s largest capital campaign in its history, a city-wide Youth Center in the heart of downtown Birmingham was built and opened in late 2006.

In 2010, the association opened a full-service branch in the Alabaster community, and by the end of 2011, the largest single facility in the association’s history opened in Hoover.

The Y Today


The YMCA of Greater Birmingham is a charitable organization dedicated to making our community a healthier place to live.  Since opening our doors in 1884 here in Birmingham, our focus has remained the same:  to connect people of all ages and backgrounds to bridge the gap in community needs.  Over the years, our programs and facilities have changed, but not our mission of service to the community.

Today, the YMCA of Greater Birmingham serves the metro Birmingham area through its 8 Membership Branches, 2 Youth Centers, and Camp Cosby Sleepaway Camp.

Our Youth Development programming supports families and youth through a variety of character-building programs including Afterschool Academy, Summer Day Camps, 1st Class Pre-K, Sleepaway Camp, Youth Sports, Kindergarten Readiness, Swim Team, Swim Lessons, and Youth in Government.

The Y’s membership services provide access to contemporary group exercise classes, cardio and strength equipment, aquatic facilities, tennis courts, and gyms –  all focused to provide Healthy Living options and programming to the community.

The Y’s commitment to Social Responsibility is best demonstrated through its recent response to the 2020 pandemic and the variety of community initiatives it implemented, including Red Cross Blood Drives, Farmers to Families Food Distribution, Volunteering, Emergency Childcare for Essential Workers, Financial Aid, and numerous collaborations with like-minded community partners to help overcome the financial, social, and economic disparities brought about by the crisis.

The following statement has been true throughout the Y’s great history:

“We lift up each other.  That’s what we do.  Our goal is to create a movement for good in Greater Birmingham.  The Y connects people of all ages, backgrounds, abilities, and incomes to shape lives and build community.”

Tim Blair, Past Board Chair of YMCA of Greater Birmingham