“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, the property passed on to his wife upon his passing.
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 shorthand 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 located at 157th Street and Edgecombe Avenue from the Bluff to today’s housing complex is one of the few remaining relicts of the former ballfield.
The inscription which is very hard to read honors John T. Brush, New York Giants’ owner from 1903 to 1912. Inscription reads: The John T. Brush Stairway Presented by the New York Giants” It has been allowed to detriorate over the years and is now blocked off but I am sure that some people still use it at their own risk.
The Morris-Jumel Mansion, the oldest house in Manhattan still standing (built in 1765 and now a museum) is located nearby, and immediately to the west is Sugar Hill, immortalized by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn in their 1941 classic song “Take the ‘A’ Train”.