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.

{ 110 comments… read them below or add one }

Peggy August 22, 2014 at 6:38 am

What was the name of the bar across from The Tara Gift Shop on 207th St Thanks

Martin Melody October 4, 2014 at 12:17 am

Does anyone remember the time when my mother and father had the store at 4986 Broadway ?

Tom Fahy October 6, 2014 at 11:00 am

Thank’s for mentioning Sam’s Tavern. That’s where you would take a girl, after up
just picked her-up @ the Inwood Lounge. The old Lady in the back area was May , a very sweet old lady. Thank you all for great memories. I lived on Seaman Ave. between
207th & Payson Ave.

Al October 8, 2014 at 2:30 am

The “Inn Between”!!! ;)

Diane Anderson October 8, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Went to all those bars. Inwood was the best loved growing up there

RICH M December 10, 2014 at 12:38 am

No one mentioned Charlies on 207th street. A little island. rough crowd

Lisa Palazzo December 18, 2014 at 11:43 am

Sam’s Tavern was the best and thanks for remembering. The owners/bartenders were brothers Tony & Louie Palazzo. I called them Uncle Tony & Louie. They were my father’s first cousins.

John McGarrigle January 17, 2015 at 11:58 am

If anybody has pictures of Sams Tavern could you please post them or e-mail them to me

Tom Scott January 23, 2015 at 6:13 pm

How about Patrick’s on Dyckman St. between B’way and Seaman, and Coffey’s on Dyckman next between the diner on the corner of Broadway and the Alpine Theater. Also Goode’s on Broadway between Academy and 204th. They were quiet little places, but with friendly bartenders all ready with a buy-back on every third drink. Barone’s on Dyckman at the corner of Nagle Ave was another good place.

Bill Hoare April 27, 2015 at 1:01 pm

Had many a happy night at the Park Gate on Arden Street. I remember we had a moon keg with a 10 ft. hero the night man first walked on the moon.

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