Press Releases

New York City Bar Association Marks 150th Anniversary

New York, February 3, 2020 – In 2020, the New York City Bar Association is marking a century and a half of advocating reform of the law in the public interest, increasing access to justice, standing up for the rule of law and being a second home to the legal profession.

For generations, the landmark House of the Association in midtown Manhattan has welcomed Supreme Court justices, presidents, governors, mayors, legislators, civil rights leaders, visiting foreign delegations and the public, as well as attorneys from every kind of practice.

With growing membership and activity at the City Bar increasing demand for use of its space by the legal community, and in commemoration of its 150th anniversary, the City Bar is undertaking a capital campaign to renovate the “House of the Association.” Funds raised will be used to revitalize the extraordinary, high-ceilinged library on the fourth floor of the building for multi-purpose use, with technological upgrades, as well as to modernize and optimize infrastructure and other spaces throughout the building for committee work, live-streaming, events and member networking. So far, the early phase of the campaign has raised over $5 million, and the City Bar is actively seeking donations from its members, foundations, the public and other sources.

“The New York City Bar Association is woven into the history of New York City and the legal community,” said City Bar President Roger Juan Maldonado. “As we celebrate our 150th anniversary, we continue to dedicate ourselves to serving our members and partnering with the public and our communities to uphold the rule of law and increase access to justice.”

“Located in the heart of midtown Manhattan, and considering the variety of people who pass through and array of organizations that utilize the space for events and meetings, the City Bar feels like the crossroads of the legal profession,” said Executive Director Bret Parker. “Even in the digital age and with the latest technologies, there’s often no substitute for in-person activity, so we are committed to remaining a place where our members and other individuals and organizations come to convene.”

The “Association of the Bar of the City of New York,” as it was originally called, was founded in 1870 in a New York City struggling with corruption, most notoriously at the hands of the Tammany Hall machine of Boss Tweed and his associates. On February 1, 1870, the first meeting of the Association took place after some 200 lawyers signed a “Call for Organization.”

A timeline on the City Bar’s website – “150 Years of City Bar Moments” – highlights the Association’s work in the public interest and on behalf of the legal profession. This includes work to reform the judiciary beginning in the 1870s; defending the accused during the Red Scares of the 1920s and 1950s; providing free legal services to inductees into the army during World War II; leading on social issues like mental illness, drug prohibition and same-sex marriage; and multiple efforts for civil and human rights in the second half of the 20th Century and the first years of the 21st Century. 

In addition to the timeline, the City Bar’s 150th Anniversary website – – features “City Bar Stories” by notable members and friends of the Association; the ability to uploadYour City Bar Story”; a list of special events that will be updated as the anniversary year progresses; a link to the special anniversary edition of the City Bar’s 44th Street Notes newsletter; and the opportunity to donate to support the capital campaign.