It does not get more Washington Heights than Coogan’s. More than just a bar, Coogan’s was a haven for this diverse, vibrant and hardworking community for over 35 years. It was an Irish bar that was also Dominican, Black, Jewish, Mexican and so forth. It was the Uptown version of Cheers. This might sound corny or clichéd, but the truth is that when you were there, you were home. It is hard to describe the feeling you felt when you entered their doors. It is infinitely sad that we will never feel that way again.
Beyond the great food, or the strong drinks, Coogan’s was a place that made you feel good. Before Washington Heights became trendy, before gentrification came calling to wreak havoc, before you had chic places to eat and drink, there was Coogan’s. For many of us who grew up in Washington Heights, Coogan’s was our first bar.
Coogan’s opened its door in 1985 right at the beginning of the crack era that devastated Washington Heights and so many communities across the country. Even then, Coogan’s welcomed one and all. It was oasis of calm in a neighborhood in the throes of the crack epidemic. During the riots that rocked this neighborhood in the summer of 1992, Coogan’s was a bastion of neighborliness and unity.
Coogan’s has survived the crack era, several economic downturns, September 11th and just a couple of years ago overcame the machinations of its landlord to put it out of business. But the community came together and did not allow that to happen.
This time, Coogan’s is gone for good. On April 20th, the owners of this hallowed establishment shared a letter on their social media platforms that broke the hearts of so many in this community. Even with so much death, misery and heartbreak that have changed this great city irrevocably, this loss is particularly tough.
Our motto here at the Uptown Collective is Spread Love It’s The Uptown Way. Coogan’s was the embodiment of that. It will be sorely missed. Thank you, Dave, Peter and Tess, for the memories, the merriment and the love. Coogan’s will live in our hearts forever.
Pa’lante, Siempre Pa’lante!