The Young Women's Christian Association of Oakland was housed in a large multipurpose building designed by renowned architect Julia Morgan.  The goal of the organization was to provide young women with a religious, recreational residential center as well as residential accommodations in which to develop safe, healthy and productive lives within the city.  Young women who were new to city life could live safely within the YWCA boarding houses, and women from a wide range of backgrounds were always welcome, including young foreign immigrants.

After Julia Morgan studied various East Coast YWCA buildings in 1912, she decided her design for the Oakland YWCA building would follow that of an Italian Renaissance palazzo with both formal and informal spaces in an open setting.  The pool area and athletic facilities would also be open to the public as well as the residences.

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