On October 16, 1852, the Gesellschaft Harmonie was established, a social club constructed with the purpose of providing “mutually beneficial entertainment” for recent German immigrants. While the phrase “mutually beneficial entertainment” many sound a bit sleazy to contemporary ears, in the mid-nineteenth century this simply meant a club to advance networking opportunities, so you may think of it as a Linkedin of its day. During its first 15 years, the club led a nomadic existence, but in 1867 it settled down at 45 West 42nd Street—using its more permanent location to hold events ranging from lectures to theatrical performances to bowling.
In spite of its origins, the next thirty years saw the club shed certain Germanic characteristics—its name shifted from the Gesellschaft Harmonie to the Harmonie Club and the official language shifted from German to English. Further changes came with the turn of the century. As interest in sprawling social events declined and property taxes skyrocketed, the Harmonie Club left its base and relocated to this building at 4 East 60th Street.
Membership fell into the doldrums during First and Second World Wars, due to the club’s affiliation with Germany and its members serving in the conflicts. However, clever public relations, like hosting events for enlisted men, helped the club return to pre-war membership levels in both instances. Today, the Harmonie Club remains at 4 East 60th Street, where it continues regularly hosting social events.