The Turtle Bay Association (TBA), founded in 1957, and its volunteer members are dedicated to preserving and enhancing this lovely, vibrant corner of Manhattan. The Turtle Bay Association is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. All contributions, including membership, are tax deductible.

Our mission

The Turtle Bay Association is made up of residents, business people, and property owners who live and/or work in Turtle Bay. With a membership of almost 2000 New Yorkers, we’re a growing group of dedicated volunteers actively working to preserve our history, enhance our quality of life and help our members deal with the issues and demands of everyday urban living in the 21st century.

The Turtle Bay Association’s mission is to:

  • Enhance the sense of well-being and improve the quality of life in our neighborhood by maintaining the best in urban standards while preserving the innate charm of Turtle Bay.
  • Promote a clean, safe and well maintained neighborhood.
  • Represent those who live and work in the Turtle Bay neighborhood at community meetings, or meetings with the city and state, on issues that concern our common interests.
  • Regularly communicate news affecting our neighborhood to our membership.
  • Keep appointed and elected officials representing the Turtle Bay area informed and updated about our position on community matters.
  • Engage in any and all activities consistent with nurturing a strong and growing neighborhood organization.

Activist beginnings

James Amster in Amster Yard
Leading founder James Amster

In 1957, a few Turtle Bay neighbors got together to protest the widening of East 49th Street. Their informal meetings led to the formation of the Turtle Bay Association. Years later, we’re still the neighborhood watchdogs. Many of our present board members initially became involved with the association in much the same way their predecessors did: confronting a problem and joining forces to do something about it.

Neighbors keeping an eye out

The problems and concerns of a neighborhood in a city the size of New York are generally too complex to be handled by an individual. The Turtle Bay Association, which has the power of many, watches out for problems, defines the issues, and really knows who to contact for help.

  • From the beginning, we have nurtured close working relationships with appointed and elected officials at all levels of city, state and federal government.
  • The Turtle Bay Association maintains direct contact with our local police precinct to ensure the safety and protection of our community.
  • We are charter members of the 17th Precinct Community Council.
  • We work with representatives of all the major municipal services to make sure we’re receiving optimum service.
  • As charter members of the East Side Rezoning Alliance (ESRA), in 1987, we joined forces and successfully spearheaded a drive for low-rise rezoning to protect our air and sunlight.
  • We have frequently acted as a watchdog to report zoning violations that threaten the character and quality of life in our neighborhood.
  • In 1995, we formed the Turtle Bay Business Associates to more fully address the concerns of the neighborhood’s commercial sector and to promote business in Turtle Bay.
  • In addition, the Turtle Bay Association supports the activities of other neighborhood nonprofit groups such as Friends of Dag Hammarskjold Park, Turtle Bay Tree Fund, and the Vanderbilt YMCA.

A cleaner, greener neighborhood

We have spearheaded major park renovations, including the reconstruction of Peter Detmold Park (1987) and Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, which was completed in 1999. Responding to complaints of concerned parents, we launched a clean up of MacArthur Playground, planted flowers, and continue to organize events.

TBA’s Beautification of Second Avenue campaign has resulted in more trees and flowers being planted there, as well as the reduction of visual clutter. Our graffiti fighters periodically repaint mailboxes, traffic signs, and signal boxes.

In addition, TBA helps support such community-based groups as the Friends of Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, the Friends of Peter Detmold Park, and the Turtle Bay Tree Fund in their efforts to keep our neighborhood clean and green. Through our own TBA Tree Program, we directly fund the planting and maintenance of trees along Second Avenue in Turtle Bay.

In recognition of our efforts, the Turtle Bay Association has been cited in the U.S. Congressional Record for working to reclaim Turtle Bay’s public spaces.

But we’re not resting on our laurels

The TBA board of directors meets monthly to review a wide variety of issues, while designated committees focus on specific areas, such as Environment, Zoning, and Parks. We write letters and make phone calls, voicing our concerns for the community’s safety, security, appearance, and well-being. Sometimes it takes years of organized community activism to win our battles.

We keep our members informed three ways. We publish the Turtle Bay Newsletter, which is mailed to members quarterly. The TBA bulletin board, used to post important notices of interest to the community, is prominently displayed on Second Avenue between 48th and 49th Streets. We maintain this website, which has broadened our outreach and expanded the information we bring to our members.

We also maintain an active agenda of annual events, including our “Love Thy Neighborhood” Valentine Party, our annual Turtle Bay Street Fair, Night Out Against Crime, Town Hall Meetings, and a Holiday Toy/Gift Collection for needy children. Plus an occasional outing just for the fun of it!

The greater our numbers, the stronger your voice. Join us!!

We invite you to support the Turtle Bay Association—to join hands and hearts with us and become a good neighbor. If you live or work in Turtle Bay, you owe it to yourself to join us in preserving and protecting our quality of life here. Even if you’re not a local, you can still be a member of the Turtle Bay Association. We promise to make you feel right at home!

Where’s the bay?

Turtle Bay (Midtown East), New York NYThe neighborhood of Turtle Bay extends from 43rd to 53rd Street, and eastward from Lexington Avenue to the East River. The United Nations now stands where the bay once was, and the 40-acre tract once known as Turtle Bay Farm has evolved into an urban landscape. Still, many landmarks of the past remain as evidence of the area’s colorful history. From the international corridors of the United Nations to the posh parlors of Beekman Place, Turtle Bay is a diplomatic stomping ground and an enclave of East Side elegance.