November 1, 2017

CONFIDENTIAL: Riot at Corcoran's Roost

This edition of our Confidential series, examining the area's more unsavory moments, goes back in time to the night of September 10, 1899, when a riot breaks out at Corcoran's Roost.

Corcoran's Roost is the lair of Paddy Corcoran, leader of the Rag Gang, who terrorizes the area in the 1860s‒1870s, when it was known as Goat Hill. The exact location of The Roost is a matter of debate. Both Prospect Tower and Tudor Tower lay claim to the honor, but we believe it roosted on First Avenue, between 39th and 40th Streets ‒ currently, the site of the rising Richard Meier building.

The Times reports the melee the following day. It begins when "a gang of toughs opposed to Negroes" attacks a black passerby. A local cop intercedes, is overwhelmed, and calls for reinforcements. "Neighbors take a hand in the fight" and soon there are "bricks flying through the air" and "many sore heads." (Paddy Corcoran himself is not involved in the fray. In 1899, he is 81 and long retired.)

The full Times story, below.

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