Inwood: The Bar Scene of Not So Long Ago

by Cole Thompson

There was a time not so long ago when Inwood had a thriving bar scene.  Up, down and between Dyckman Street and 207th, there were some 100, mainly Irish, bars. While a few bars, The Piper’s Kilt, The Liffy, Irish Eyes, as well as a few others still remain, most disappeared as the demographics of the neighborhood changed in the 1960′s and 70′s.

Hedgehog Inn, Academy and Broadway

In his tome to the neighborhood, “The Inwood Book,” John F. McMullen paid tribute to the taverns and pubs of  his generation in a poem entitled, “The Bars.”

Nugents Bar, 1979

Nugents Bar, 1979

What follows is McMullen’s poem accompanied by a series of photographs and advertisements of the Inwood nightlife of McMullen’s generation.  I hope this post sparks more memories and generates more photographs from an Inwood bar scene of not so long ago.

The Bars
Reprinted with the permission of John F. McMullen-aka “JohnMac The Bard.”

I grew up in an Irish/Jewish neighborhood.
The Jewish lads went to school and studied;
the Irish went to the bars.

To be sure, many of us also went to school
and played sports and went out with girls
(no sex, though).
But we went to the bars
after games
after dates
after softball games
before and after dances
to watch the Sunday football game
and for every other damn reason.

The Broadstone
the Willow Tree, Erin’s Isle
Chambers’, McSherry’s, the Inwood Lounge
Doc Fiddler’s, Cassidy’s, Jimmy Ryan’s, Keenan’s Corner
Dolan’s, The Pig n’ Whistle, Freehill’s, Terminal, Old
Markey’s, McGolderick’s, Carmor, Rooney’s, Grippo’s,
Well, you get the idea.

We knew the bartenders by name.
George Lynch, Pat Gallagher, “Sunshine,” Georgie Costello,
Chris, Fred, Tommy, Mara, Dan, John, Joe, Kathy-in-Erin’s
and they all bought back. “The next one’s on me, Mac”
(and you never leave after a buyback).

We hung out there
we talked
we laughed
we sang
we sometimes fought
…and we drank.

But we didn’t just drink in the bars
we drank in the park
we drank at parties
we drank at football games
we drank at dances (from a hidden flask).

Many slowed down as they grew up
many stopped altogether
and some were stopped only by the grave.

“The drink” was a macho factor.
If you told a fellow he had diabetes,
he’d stop taking sugar.
If you told some of my friends that they shouldn’t drink, they’d say
“What do you mean? I can hold my liquor.”

They planned to drink until they died
and they did.

I still think we had more fun
than the Jewish guys
(unless they were getting laid).

Burnside Pub 1978- 4742 Broadway Near Dyckman- Heights-Inwood Newspaper

Burnside Pub

Burnside Pub, Broadway Between Dyckman and Thayer

Garry Owens, Corner of Dyckman and Vermilyea

HedgeHog Inn

Melody Lounge 1974- Heights Inwood Newspaper

Wigwam Inn, 75 Sherman Avenue, 1960

Archie’s Pub ad, Heights-Inwood, July 7, 1976

Donemay Pub ad, Heights-Inwood, March 28, 1979

Long Valley Pub, 215th and Broadway, Inwood, NYC.

Donemay New Years-1979, Heights-Inwood newspaper

Fort Tryon Seafood, Heights-Inwood, July 7, 1976

Salt and Pepper, Heights-Inwood, March 28, 1979

The Last Stop, The Washington Heights Citizen & The Inwood News, March, 1990

The Last Stop, The Washington Heights Citizen & The Inwood News, May 1990

The Last Stop, The Washington Heights Citizen & The Inwood News, May, 1990

The Last Stop, The Washington Heights Citizen & The Inwood News, Sept., 1990

The Melody Lounge, Heights-Inwood, April 29, 1981

The Melody Lounge, Heights-Inwood, July 7, 1976

Melody Lounge 1974- Heights Inwood Newspaper

Keenan’s, 1979

Hitching Post 1975 Heights-Inwood Newspaper

Garry Owen, 1979

Emerald Tavern, 1979

Donemay Pub Broadway and 213th 1980 – Heights Inwood News

Again, thank you to John F. McMullen for sharing his poem. “The Inwood Book” can be purchased on Amazon. Also a special thanks to Claire Anne Gray of the Piper’s Kilt for providing the wonderful vintage photographs.

I encourage all readers to share their own memories of Inwood’s bar scene of old by using the comment box below. If you have any photos you would like to share please let me know. I will be happy to add them to this post.

{ 98 comments… read them below or add one }

Brian Fearon September 5, 2012 at 4:47 pm

Being born and raised on 207 st. & Bway. I had the oppertunity to have a pint in most of the great places of worship mentioned above. How abouth “The Bunch of Grapes”
on 207 just east of Sherman and “The Wrong Number” on 10th. ave. I met my wife of 48 years in Garry Owens on Dyckman St. It was owned by Gene McCormick and Harry McShane. Great-Great memories. We are all fortunate to have experianced them.

BERNIE MATTHIES September 5, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Chambers was at SHERMAN Ave & ISHAM ST. Jack Chambers paid the rent for the people living above the bar because of the noise on the week end.

Bobby Webster September 6, 2012 at 8:15 am

Thanks for the memories!! I worked at The White Horse which then turned into the Wrong Number for many years down on 214th and 10th Ave. I didnt see a mantion of Ray Vans Nest Bway and 215th st. Great bar with super people. The place to go late 60′s early 70′s.

Bob T September 29, 2012 at 11:30 pm

We went to Chambers many a’nite… much that we didn’t have to wait on the line….just walked up gave the thumbs up and in we went….the music and the crowd was great…..had many a beer with the Guys….Phil Lynch…..Bobby Fink…..Larry Kangro

TOM H October 17, 2012 at 11:40 am

I had the pleasure (I think) of walking the beat on 207st in the mid sixties. There was enough going on on the midnight tours to keep me going but because they were my own kind I would look the other way at times, But when the bars closed I had to position myself in front of the capital diner on Broadway and 207 st , where all the drunks went and sometimes tried to wreck the place Ah The Good Old Days!

Joyce Konecny October 19, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Loved Chambers. Our gang hung out there and Georgie Lynch was our favorite bartender. Also went to Harry McShane’s Garryowens, Barry’s, the Pig ‘n Whistle (Pete McGee’s place) and the Inwood Lounge. Great times!

John Canny December 24, 2012 at 10:55 pm

I still remember going up and down 207th street on one side and coming back up the other visiting all the Irish bars. It was a great neighborhood and Inwood Hill Park was a great place to play ball and hang out with the gang.

Eddie Grant January 21, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Anyone remember Nunzie’s on academy st?
Off Post ave
My grandparents sat for me & my brother in the 50′s at 65 Post
And Grampa often had to be retrieved from there
I think child care then was letting us run rampant on the “white rocks”

Karen February 17, 2013 at 7:49 am

Attending Fordham university graduate school was a short course in fun and dancing to the Black. Velvet Band at that Hitching Post. Lots of fun and partying.

Martin reynolds February 20, 2013 at 8:51 pm

I grew up directly across from good shepherd. Worked at mahoney’s where many six packs were stolen. McSherry’s was a bit too close for my dad though-shot and a beer!!!

thomas March 4, 2013 at 6:04 am

my first memories of drinking in a bar was Garryowens in the late 1960s. We would drive in from Jersey and go up there and and would sit around feeling great to be drinking pitchers of beer when not a one of us had reached the age of 18 although we had some crappy Ids. I believe mine was a drivers license from Wisconsin for a 38 year from Milwaukee. Even had pitchers of Sloe gin fizzs for about $2.50.

Fred Niemczenia April 9, 2013 at 9:15 am

After graduating from CCNY, our favorite bar, The Vinegar Hill relocated from Amsterdam Ave. to 214th St. It was run by three brothers, Ed. Atrie and Rodney Guy

Dave Rourke April 26, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Martin Reynolds, thats a blast from the past. Saw your post, just wanted to say hello and hope all you family is well. Dave Rourke from 252 Sherman Ave.

Leslie Jicha and John Bishop May 12, 2013 at 6:02 pm

What great memories of Inwood Park, Garryowens and the Sloop!

Billy Gallo May 20, 2013 at 2:16 pm

My little brother Phil worked at the Rac/Aechies pub when he was only 16. Someone blew the whistle on him, but Archie told phil as soon as you rerach 18 come back and he did. My little bro would get me laid some times. especially when I came home from the service. What great times. i lived on 207th and Vermilyea. Only recently moved out last Dec. I am not far away though. Still hang out at Litty II, Kilt and Irish eyes, Still here after all these years.

Billy Gallo May 20, 2013 at 2:20 pm

My brother phil, Tim Slain, Eddie ? ands Dennis Becker we had a group. We had a few names Blue Seekers, Dirt, Street Corner Society. LOL We actually sang at the wrong number and a few other places in 1969. We had a ball there. We also auditioned at the Inwood Lounge, but my brother got pissed off because on drunk patron was giving us advice. Phill didn;t like it and packed up his drums and walked out. What a bumma LOL

Wayne Halloran May 26, 2013 at 5:21 am

Bobby T.from 9/29/12
I saw your post, I too was very good friends with the three guys you mentioned. I just can’t figure out who you are? (Bobby T.)Get back to me at my email address.

gary knight May 26, 2013 at 6:26 am

“Pass the sugar” was the trip word for an all out brawl at Bickfords (B’way & Dyckman) The sugar jar was torpedoes to you from one of the other gang members..The police were called and 2 squad cars would sit outside until the fray ceased..No one has mentioned Sam’s Bar Sherman Ave between Academy and 204th St,,That was where Tom and Lou were the best bartenders in the neighborhood..Inwood was the”THE BEST” and I’d give a million dollars to back there and relive it..I lived at 121 Sherman and didn’t walk far to have a beer,,Daly and Sheridans, Barry’s, Wigwam, Inwood Lounge, Pig & Whistle, Barones and my watering hole Sams’ .

justskating May 26, 2013 at 9:35 am

Not one word about the best bar in Inwood, Sams! BTW, Fred Niemczenia, The Vinegar Hill was on 215St.!

charlie harris May 26, 2013 at 10:30 am

the pig & whistle

charlie harris May 26, 2013 at 10:31 am

the pig& whistle

Jim Hurley May 26, 2013 at 4:13 pm

The Inwood lounge, where Larry Chance and the Earls signed to do
a two week stint and stayed for two years.
How did I ever drive home to The Bronx from that place ?

Eileen May 30, 2013 at 10:00 am

Ah . .the memories of when I was a teenager. My friends and I would hang out on “2-4th” which was the corner of 204th Street and Broadway before heading out to either Garryowens, “slipping” at the Sloop because by the end of the night the floor was a slippery beer / alcohol mess, or at Doc Fiddler’s where we use to go hear “Alive N Kicking”. The band which I had at my wedding decades later but sounded just as great! We were 16 and 17 years old at then and had the time of our lives!!

john owens May 30, 2013 at 10:33 pm

I remember them well and was barred from most. Fond memories of basil at nugants.

Larry G June 17, 2013 at 8:27 pm

I worked at the Inn Between at 207th and Sherman for a number of years. It was originally called Ray’s but when the owner Jimmy Rayhill decided to change the name he named it the Inn Between because it was the inn between Garry Owens, Chamber’s, Doc Fiddlers, The and the Inwood Lounge, Sam’s, Bunch of Grapes, Sloop John and the Blarney Star. What memories

Howie H July 3, 2013 at 11:48 pm

When I was 16 I joined the soft ball team at the Inn Between so Ray and the other bartenders would know me. This way I could get in without getting proofed.

Jesse July 9, 2013 at 8:02 pm

I cant forget hanging out at Lou Browns pool room on Vermilyea near Dyckman, and playing softball in the bar league for either Inwood Bar or Garryowens and playing fgootball for the Terriers and softball and stickball in the PS52 shoolyard and basketball against Good Shephard and hitch-hiking up to GW High. Sports melded the Irish, the Jews and the Greeks together.

Ramon Bonet July 16, 2013 at 10:00 am

Can’t believe Barone’s Bar hasn’t been mentioned! It was on the corner of Nagle and Dyckman. As kids my friends and I would sneak in to use the bathroom, years later would watch sporting events and drink like the old timers did. I think its a bodega or restaurant now. I live in Delaware now.

Joanie July 27, 2013 at 4:07 pm

I remember dancing at Doc’s with my friends to the jukebox music and Tommy Coughlin saying, “girls, girls, no dancing – I don’t have a cabaret license!” Also, I remember the last night at Doc’s before they moved up to Riverdale and the jukebox sitting out on the sidewalk playing “sooner or later.” Doc Fiddlers then became The Red Barrel. So many fond memories of Doc’s, Chambers and The Sloop and most of the places named!

Martin H. September 2, 2013 at 5:46 pm

My uncle John Manca, owned the Inn Between for a while it was nice and quiet in the day and at night wild and crazy.They had some good soft ball players in Bars in Inwood and John Manka, could hit the ball so far,good times.It was just the great all around the mm,

Martin Melody October 12, 2013 at 3:21 am

I like your history of Irish Inwood.The picture of the Donemay Pub 1979 New Years was the first time I played music.God Bless those days. Martin Melody

Pat T December 18, 2013 at 8:07 am

My favorite was the “Hitching Post” back in the days..Up there dancing with all my friends. Linda, Kathy, Barbara C. etc. we had a blast!

john miller January 9, 2014 at 3:55 pm

Does anybody remember the name of the pub on the corner of Post ave and Dyckman st.I spent time in there the night before my wedding October 5th 1957.

john miller January 9, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Please the name of bar on corner of Post and Dyckman in 1957

Billy Hargadon February 13, 2014 at 4:51 pm

Does anyone remember the old Inwood Newspaper that was out in the 70′s? Please let me know…

Martin Melody March 11, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Inwood hieghts newspaper

Charlie Hartin April 8, 2014 at 9:10 am

The Pub on the corner of Vermilyea & Dyckman-one name I remember “Denwins”
operated by john Simkins.

fuzzy cooke April 15, 2014 at 8:19 pm

gary knight mentioned Sam’s, my home from 1968 thru 1971.
Run by the Palazzo brothers, Tony & Lou.
Bartenders were Billy Martin and Jimmy Wyatt.
Great great times, and the Tolentine crowd supported them.

Stan April 15, 2014 at 9:15 pm

I remember the Inn Between and Inwood Lounge….walked across the bridge from the Bronx to get there. Accepted ID was a birth certificate…so one person could go in with a drivers license and another a few minutes later with a birth certificate …same name but no one cared.

Marty Listl April 16, 2014 at 8:30 pm

I was a bouncer at The Blast, The Bunch of Grapes, Doc Fiddlers and tended bar at The Sloop before really leaving Inwood. Then I worked in many clubs in different areas of NY and NJ and ended up working a bunch of clubs in the Hamptons. Inwood was very good schooling for that career.

Maureen K May 5, 2014 at 12:04 am

I love catching up on the new posts here. Lived in Inwood 68 to 77. Can say I re cognize almost all the pubs of the area. Remember buying my Mom a fine China Irish Teacup from Jeannie Campbells Irish Shop maybe Mothers day 1969. I now have this. Worked making egg creams at Harry’s on Tenth Ave and 207th.
Class of 1970 OLQM. Remember too all the St Jude end of summer Bazaars. Good times. Great people.

Joanne Russo Insull May 29, 2014 at 2:16 pm

My Dad, Dave Russo, tended bar in many of the bars in Inwood during the 50′s and 60′s. For him, it was a part-time job that helped supplement the family income when he drove a truck during the day for Nabisco. He enjoyed it a lot. We lived on Sherman near the Wigwam, which was where he’d go – sometimes with my mother.

Joanne Russo Insull May 29, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Garry Knight- regarding Nunzie’s- was owned by Nunzio LaMiraglia and his son, Rocco. My Dad also tended bar there also. And if my parents went there, we’d play outside. The bartenders always wore white shirts and ties and white aprons. Rocco and my Dad were good friends and the families would spend time together on occasion.

Jerry Panza June 23, 2014 at 1:45 am

The bar on the Dykman and post was Denwins Tavern . I lived at 34 Post ave. Strange no mention of the Tally Ho . Post and 207th and 10th ave. it was the whole triamgular corner. Sam’s was caddy corner to it . Mirimar just down the street. Also no mention of the Starboard Side just around the corner on 10th and 206th st and E&G’s right across the street on the W side of 10th ave . We had our pigeon coop up on the Inwood Loung’s roof. Great neighborhood !

Mary Ann M August 2, 2014 at 8:40 am

Loved the 60″s and 70″s in inwood.

John B August 2, 2014 at 7:23 pm

Barone’s was the best Italian place in Inwood. The Blarney Stone and Cahills (Mrs Cahill) on 207th between Post and Sherman ave. How about the E&G on 204th and 10th Ave? My father and later I tended bar there when I was home on weekends from the Air Force.

Walaka August 5, 2014 at 12:34 pm

I worked for the Heights-Inwood newspaper in 1975 as an intern. Interesting times… lead-up to the Bicentennial.

Joyce August 14, 2014 at 9:10 pm

Inwood was great fun back in the late 60′s thru 70′s. I can still remember hanging out @ Sam’s Tavern watching the NY Knicks playing the 7 the game for the championship. They had a great jukebox. And somebody would drop a much of quarters in to listen to: He ain’t heavy, He’s my brother!

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