Coogan's Bluff

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Fans watch a game at the Polo Grounds from Coogan's Bluff, 1908
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 Bushman Steps looking west from Edgecombe Avenue

Coogan's Bluff is the name of a promontory rising abruptly from the Harlem River in Upper Manhattan in New York City. Starting at 155th Street, it is regarded as the boundary between the neighborhoods of Harlem and Washington Heights.

The rise is named for James J. Coogan (1845–1915), a real estate owner and one-term Manhattan Borough President. Known as "Coogan's Bluff" as early as 1893,[1][2] the property passed on to his wife upon his death.

The bluff overlooks the Polo Grounds Towers housing complex, situated on the former site of the Polo Grounds, home of Major League Baseball's New York Giants prior to the franchise moving to San Francisco at the end of the 1957 season. Sportwriters took to using "Coogan's Bluff" as a figure of speech standing for the Polo Grounds the way today's use "Chavez Ravine" to refer to Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and "China Basin" for AT&T Park in San Francisco. However, the Polo Grounds actually sat in Coogan's Hollow, the bottomland beneath the bluff. The John T. Brush Stairway from the Bluff to today's housing complex is one of the few remaining relics of the former ballfield.[3][4]

The housing complex itself consists of four thirty-story buildings with a total of 1,616 apartments, located on the 15.15-acre (6.13 ha) site, which is bordered by Frederick Douglass Boulevard, West 155th Street and 8th Avenue. The complex was completed on June 30, 1968, and is run by the New York City Housing Authority.[5] A plaque within the grounds of the housing project marks the approximate location of home plate at the Polo Grounds, which served as the home of the New York Giants from 1891–1957.[6] Attached to Tower #2 of these housing grounds is the Polo Grounds Community Center, in a very old building, so arrangements have been made to move into a new building. The Polo Grounds Community Center is run by Children's Village, which hosts many programs like the Polo Ground's very own Polo Ground's Youth Conference.[7]

The Bushman Steps, located just west of Coogan's Bluff in Sugar Hill/Hamilton Heights, took people from the subway to the ticket booths of the Polo Grounds. A second staircase, the John T. Brush Stairway,[8] carried fans the rest of the way down the bluff to the stadium. They are located on West 157th Street, between St Nicholas Avenue and Edgecombe Avenue. The New York City Parks Department does not know who the name Bushman refers to.[9]

The Morris-Jumel Mansion, the oldest house in Manhattan still standing (built in 1765 and now a museum) is also located nearby in Washington Heights.


  1. Pollak, Michael (April 25, 2004). "F.Y.I." The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-10-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "The Orange Above the Blue". The New York Times. December 1, 1893. p. 1. Retrieved 2009-10-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Miller's Homer Beats Phillies". The New York Times. July 9, 1913. p. 8. Retrieved 2009-10-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Williams, Timothy (February 19, 2008). "A Stairway to Sports History From the Polo Grounds". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-10-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Polo Grounds Towers". New York City Housing Authority. Retrieved 2009-10-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Spector, Jesse (September 21, 2008). "Yankees had homes before becoming Bronx Bombers". Daily News. New York. Retrieved 2009-10-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Polo Ground's Youth Conference" Children's Village. Commenced 2011-06-01.
  8. * John T. Brush Stairway at Coogan's Bluff
  9. NYC Parks Bushman Steps Highlights

External links

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