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Coogan's Bluff

Coordinates: 40°49′57″N 73°56′21″W / 40.8326°N 73.9393°W / 40.8326; -73.9393
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Fans on Coogan's Bluff watch the infamous Merkle's Boner game between the Giants and Cubs at the Polo Grounds, September 23, 1908

Coogan's Bluff is a promontory near the western shore of the Harlem River in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Upper Manhattan in New York City. Its boundaries extend approximately from 155th Street and the Macombs Dam Bridge viaduct to 160th Street, between Edgecombe Avenue and the river. A deep escarpment descends 175 feet (53 m) from Edgecombe Avenue to the river, creating a sheltered area between the bluff and river known as Coogan's Hollow. From 1890 to 1964, the hollow was home to the Polo Grounds sports stadium.



The promontory is named for James J. Coogan (1846–1915), a real estate developer and one-term Manhattan Borough President, who owned the land during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The earliest known published reference to "Coogan's Bluff" appeared in The New York Times in 1893.[1][2]

Polo Grounds

The Bushman Steps, looking westward from Edgecombe Avenue
The John T. Brush Stairway from Edgecombe Avenue, descending through Highbridge Park toward Harlem River Drive

From 1890 until April 1964, the bluff overlooked the Polo Grounds,[3][4] a professional sports venue that served as the home ballpark for Major League Baseball's New York Giants from 1891 until the franchise's move to San Francisco after the 1957 season. Sportswriters commonly used Coogan's Bluff as a sobriquet for the Polo Grounds—as Chavez Ravine refers to Dodger Stadium and China Basin to Oracle Park—although the ballpark was actually situated in Coogan's Hollow, the bottomland between the bluff and the river. The Coogan heirs continued to own the land on which the Polo Grounds stood even though the Giants owned the stadium. This stymied the Giants' efforts to maintain the stadium and was a factor in their decision to move to San Francisco after the 1957 season.

Before the opening of the first Yankee Stadium in 1923, the New York Yankees shared the Polo Grounds with the Giants for ten seasons (191322). For their first 31 years, the football Giants of the National Football League (NFL) played home games at the Polo Grounds (192555), then went to Yankee Stadium. After four seasons without a baseball team (1958–1961), the expansion New York Mets were tenants in 1962 and 1963, then moved to the new Shea Stadium in northern Queens in 1964. The New York Titans/Jets of the American Football League (AFL) played their first four seasons at the venue (196063), then also left for Shea in 1964.

The Bushman Steps, located just west of Coogan's Bluff in Sugar Hill/Hamilton Heights, led from the 155th Street subway station to the Polo Grounds ticket booths; the John T. Brush Stairway, on West 157th Street between St Nicholas Avenue and Edgecombe Avenue, then carried fans the rest of the way down to the stadium.[5] The two stairways are the only intact structures that remain from the Polo Grounds era.[6][7] The Brush Stairway was named in honor of the owner of the Giants franchise from 1890 until his death in 1912. The identity of the namesake of the Bushman Steps has apparently been lost.[8]

Housing complex

The Polo Grounds Towers from Coogan's Bluff
Polo Grounds Towers from West 155th Street, with the Macombs Dam Bridge and the Bronx in the background

The 15.15-acre (6.13 ha) hollow, bordered by Frederick Douglass Boulevard, West 155th Street and Harlem River Drive, is currently home to the Polo Grounds Towers housing complex: four 30-story buildings containing a total of 1,616 apartments. The complex was completed on June 30, 1968, and is run by the New York City Housing Authority.[9] Attached to Tower #2 is the Polo Grounds Community Center, run by Children's Village, which hosts such programs as the Polo Grounds Youth Conference.[10] A plaque on the property marks the approximate location of home plate within the demolished ballpark.[11]



Coogan's Bluff can be reached via the New York City Subway's 155th Street station, on the IND Concourse Line (B and ​D trains). City bus routes Bx6, Bx6 SBS, M2 and M10 service the area as well.[12]

Nearby points of interest


The Morris-Jumel Mansion, the oldest house in Manhattan still standing (built in 1765 and now a museum) is located nearby, in Washington Heights. South of 155th Street, Coogan's Bluff becomes a smaller cliff within Jackie Robinson Park.[13]

Immediately across the Harlem River, in the Bronx, is Yankee Stadium, home of Major League Baseball's New York Yankees.

See also



  1. ^ Pollak, Michael (April 25, 2004). "F.Y.I." The New York Times. Retrieved October 25, 2009.
  2. ^ "The Orange Above the Blue". The New York Times. December 1, 1893. p. 1. Retrieved October 25, 2009.
  3. ^ "Historic old Polo Grounds to be torn down–finally". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. April 9, 1964. p. 13.
  4. ^ "Walls tumble down at Polo Grounds". Pittsburgh Press. UPI. April 10, 1964. p. 35.
  5. ^ * John T. Brush Stairway at Coogan's Bluff
  6. ^ "Miller's Homer Beats Phillies". The New York Times. July 9, 1913. p. 8. Retrieved October 23, 2009.
  7. ^ Williams, Timothy (February 19, 2008). "A Stairway to Sports History From the Polo Grounds". The New York Times. Retrieved October 23, 2009.
  8. ^ NYC Parks Bushman Steps Highlights
  9. ^ "Polo Grounds Towers". New York City Housing Authority. Archived from the original on March 23, 2010. Retrieved October 23, 2009.
  10. ^ "Polo Ground's Youth Conference" Archived March 28, 2012, at the Wayback Machine Children's Village. Retrieved June 1, 2011.
  11. ^ Spector, Jesse (September 21, 2008). "Yankees had homes before becoming Bronx Bombers". Daily News. New York. Retrieved October 23, 2009.
  12. ^ "Manhattan Bus Map" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. July 2019. Retrieved December 1, 2020.
  13. ^ "Macomb's Dam Bridge" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. January 14, 1992. p. 11. Retrieved January 10, 2021.

40°49′57″N 73°56′21″W / 40.8326°N 73.9393°W / 40.8326; -73.9393