2022 marks The Door’s 50th year. Over the last half-century, the world’s population has more than doubled, collectively, we live 7 years longer than we did then, and $1 in 1972 is worth $6.65 today. Attitudes about economic and social justice, sexuality, and individual rights have shifted…and shifted again. And through it all, The Door has stood strong.
The vision for The Door began in the fall of 1970 in response to the rising rates of disconnection and disaffection in New York City. A small group of 12 professionals- medical providers, psychiatrists, lawyers, educators, social workers, and artists- came together to express concern about what they saw as a crisis in adolescent health and mental health in the city. As their idea began to expand, they invited colleagues to join them. Together, this dynamic and creative group set out to design a model project, a welcoming space for adolescents with integrated services. At the start, there was no money, no space, no equipment or staff, only a group of deeply concerned volunteers.
In November of 1971, the project took a giant step forward when a program in Greenwich Village offered The Door a free pilot space. By this time, there were more than 50 volunteers involved. The space was renovated by the group, including building exam rooms, a medical lab, and a pharmacy, and the doors were opened on East 12th Street in January of 1972, providing free services and a communal space for young people, addressing the totality of their needs and strengths.
After three years of successful operations and programmatic growth, The Door moved to its first permanent home on Sixth Avenue and 18th Street in 1975 (if you walk by today, you’ll find a Bed, Bath, and Beyond!). In this space, The Door developed its physical identity, mirroring the philosophical beliefs in open access, integrated care, and transparency in the design of the program space. There was an emphasis on community gathering, collective support, and breaking down the barriers between service providers and young people, thereby destigmatizing care. The Door moved to its present location in 1989, purchasing and renovating the majority of a warehouse building on Sixth Avenue and Broome Street with nearly 60,000 square feet of program space and finding a permanent home.
Over the years, The Door has continued to grow, adapt, and respond. In 2010, in partnership with Common Ground, we opened a supportive housing facility in the Lower East Side, and a second shortly thereafter, expanding The Door’s reach well beyond SoHo. 2011 marked the inaugural year of Broome Street Academy, the public charter high school located in the SoHo building and run in partnership with The Door. In 2016, The Door assumed the operation of the Bronx Youth Center, our first foray into programming beyond Manhattan. This year, we are poised to expand our physical footprint in the Bronx in an effort to replicate our comprehensive service model more fully.
Now, in 2022, 50 years from its inception, through enormous social upheaval and change, breathtaking advances, and extraordinary challenges, The Door remains steadfast in its mission to provide comprehensive support for NYC youth. Young people know that they can come as they are and that they can count on finding community, care, support, and encouragement.
We are so excited to come together this year to celebrate this incredible journey and the phenomenal people who have shared their passions, their time, their resources, and themselves with The Door over the last 50 years. Thank you for being a part of our story.