By Barney Kiernan





     Why are there so many bars in Oswego? The answer is found in Oswego' s history. Since its inception Oswego has been an active port and at its height most of the products passing through Oswego went to Canada. Everyone knows that sailors and other mariners are prone to drink when in port. Once more, Canadian sailors, used to dealing with long winters, are reputed to drink that much more. American sailors are no slackers when it comes to consuming alcohol.


     The long winters in Oswego forced people to seek a means of supporting themselves away from the cold. The result was that during Oswego's heyday as a port there were bars throughout the city. Almost every block in the then city, now the downtown area, had a bar. Then comes the age of zoning and the state's desire to regulate bars and other means of consuming alcohol.


     Oswego's answer was two-fold. First, they "grandfathered" all the existing taverns from zoning considerations to placate both advocates of continuation of this thriving industry and the local proponents for control. Secondly, most of the taverns were carried on the official books as being restaurants. Just as the port was waning the college began to emerge. Colleges bring college students, and this state had drinks legal for 18 year olds.


     Finally, there was the mini- boom in the 1960s and 70s brought about by the building of the nuclear power plants at Scriba. This history, when combined with the harsh realities of the Oswego winter, have produced this city's resourceful response to the human need to remain social even in hostile weather.




     When you talk to the life-long Oswegonias they tell you that there were at one time as many as one hundred twenty-eight bars in Oswego. During this century, excluding the prohibition era when all of the bars were "unofficial" and countless small boats were making regular runs across the lake from Canada, the most ever listed on the books officially was sixty-seven.


     Granted, this did not include a dozen clubs that function as bars. When you go to the registers, you very quickly reach the conclusion that these creators of folklore are counting the same establishments under each of their various names (See Gone But Not For- gotten) or otherwise counting bars together that weren't open at the same time.


     You can imagine some patrons sitting around one cold winter's evening listing all the names they could remember. Without comparing addresses, or exactly when they opened or went out of business, they came up with the figure. However, I for one prefer the myth to reality. Nevertheless, when all is said and done, Oswego has one hell of a lot of bars.



The Guinness Book of World Records bestows Oswego, New York 

with the honor of holding the world record for having the most bars 

per square mile of any city in the United States of America.



The Woodshed Tavern 1 Washington Boulevard
  The Sting 49 West Bridge Street  
Greene's Ale House 104 West Bridge Street
  The Shacky Patch 54 Liberty Street  
  Toucans 156 Water Street  
  The Ferris Wheel 152 Water Street  
  Gaslight Pub Market and West First Street  
  The Brick Bar 35 West Bridge Street  
  The Press Box 29 East First Street  
  G. S. Steamer's East First Street  
  Old City Hall Water Street  
  Cafe Zero    
  The Raven 39 West Bridge Street  
  The Stadium Sports Bar 6 Hillside Avenue  
  The Nut House 305 West Seneca Street  
  Barney's 218 West Eighth Street  
  Lill's Tavern 84 Erie Street  



  Front Door Tavern 245 East Tenth Street  
  Wayne's Place 187 East 10th Street  
  Gary's 111 East Bridge Street  
  Owl's Nest 97 East Bridge Street  
  Smith's Hotel 63 East Third Street  
  Charlie's 81 East Second Street  
  The Clubhouse    
  Irish Inn 303 West Third Street  
Crazy Eddie's
  North Port Tavern 8 West Second Street  
  Coleman's Irish Pub  West Seneca Street  
  The Office Tavern 11 West Seneca Street  
  Potter's Pub 448 West First Street  
  The Fire House    
  Great Laker Inn Midtown Shopping Center  
  Just A Brew Or Two 23 East Utica Street  
  The Shamrock Tavern 67 East Seneca Street  
  Rumors 1 Mitchell Street  
  Kelly's Square 33 Mitchell Street  
  Port City Tavern 100 East Ninth Street  
  First Turn Inn 228 1/2 Albany Street  
  Light House Tavern 97 East Bridge Street  



  Players 156 Water Street  
  The Buckhout Brewery Co    
  Oompa's 61 West Bridge Street  
  O'Hara's Pub 23 West Bridge Street  
  Mulligans 23 West Bridge Street  
  Coconuts 29 West Bridge Street  
  Excuses 23 East Utica Street  
  Sarcastics 305 West Seneca Street  
  Broadwells 208 West Bridge Street  
  Buckland's Grill - Caddy Shack 230 West Bridge Street  
  Holiday's Landing Smith Beach Road  
  Anthony's Bar & Grill 67 East Bridge Street  
  North End 1 Mitchell Street  
  Mary Ann's 187 East 10th Street  
  Pat McCarthy's 91 Tallman Street  
  Gokey's 37 West Bridge Street  
  Just Another Place 06 West Second Street  
  Crown and Feather 1 Willow Street.  
  Ernies 67 E. Bridge Street  
  Kountry Komer  81 E. Bridge Street  
  Shenanigan's 180 Water Street  
  Spanky's 126 West 2nd St.  
  Steel Head's 143 E. Bridge St.  
  Tiffany's  114 W. Oneida St.  
  Bubba's  120 W. 2nd Street  
  Hard Times 120 W. 2nd Street  
  Ontario Grill 67 E. Seneca St.  
  Signorili's 100 E. 9th Street  
  Louie's 115 W. 2nd Street  
  Big AI's Saloon 118 W. 2nd Street  
  Club 45 97 E. Bridge Street  
  The Dutchman 1 Mitchell Street  
  The Night Shift 143 E. Bridge St.  
  Gyros Siyvkattva 159 Water Street  
  Louis' 115 W. 2nd Street  
  Peanut's Grill 81 E. 2nd Street  
  Peppercorn's 311 W. Seneca St.  
  Taco Tex 129 E. Bridge St.  
  Bridge Street Depot 7 E. Bridge Street  
  The Edge of Town 220 W. Seneca St.  
  Hill View 124 Tallman Street  
  Marty's Grill  448 W. 1st Street  
  The Matador 180 W. 1st Street  
  McGann's Tavern 135 W. 2nd Street  
  Laura's 51 E. Bridge Street  
  The Carriage Shop 75 E. Bridge Street  
  The Clam Bar 7 W. Bridge  
  Elissa's 5 W. Bridge Street  
  Joy Bar 67 E. Bridge Street  
  John's Tavern 351 W. 1st Street  
  Bill's Place  43 E. Bridge St.  
  Hennessey's Grill 303 W. 3rd Street  
  The Jockas Tavern 191 E. 1st Street  
  Polka Town Tavern 186 Ellen Street  
  Rainbow Lounge  23 W. Bridge St.  
  Poorhouse of Oswego Midtown Mall  
  Erie Tavern 4 Erie Street  
  The Pub Room 129 E. 1st Street  
  Jolly Giant 200 G. W. Blvd.  
  Kelly's 301 W. 3rd Street  
  Mack's Place 8 W. 2nd Street  
  Natoli's 1 Mitchell Street  

Nick's Restaurant

10 W. 2nd Street  
  Parkway Inn Mitchell Street  
  Thomas' Grill 118 W. 2nd Street  
  Bart's 37 Murray Street  
  Don's Tavern 187 E. 10th Street  
  No Place Tavern 129 E. 1st Street  
  Seneca Lounge 105 E. Bridge St.  
  Pasco's Tavern 150 W.Schulyer St.  
  Tommy MC's Tavern 35 W. Bridge St.  
  Fritz's Grill 191 E. 1st Street  
  Keegan's Grill 103 E. Seneca St.  
  Town Tavern 24 E. Bridge Street  
  Ralph's Tavern 196 W. Bridge St.  
  Austin's Grill 109 E. Bridge St.  
  Pontiac Hotel Tap Room 225 W. 1st St  
  Bear's Grill 51 E. Bridge St.  
  Chic's Grill 164 W. 1st Street  
  The Circle 149 W. 1st Street  
  Timon's Grill 191 E. 1st Street  
  Gatsby's 118 W. 2nd Street  
  Yam's Grill 448 W. 1st Street  
  Town House 115 W. 2nd Street  
  Esquire 173 W. 1st Street  
  Catalone's Tavern 11 W. Seneca St.  
  Kimrnelwicke 359 W. 1st Street  
  The Low Life Cafe 163 Water Street  
  George's Tavern 351 W. 1st Street  
  Jocko's 143 E. Bridge St.  
  Railhead Tavern 103 E. Seneca St.  
  The End Zone 37 Murray Street  
  R. J.'s Tavern 187 E. 10th Street  
  The Prologue 97 E. Bridge Street  
  Tip Top Inn 101 E. 1st Street  
  Timon's Tavern 351 W. 1st Street  
  Misty Lounge 103 E. Seneca St.  
  Loosey's 61 W. Bridge St.  
  Ship's Tavern 97 E. Bridge St.  
  Dick's Grill 448 W. 1st Street  
  Sonny's Taproom 118 W. 2nd Street  
  The Vineyard 190 E. Oneida St.  
  Paco's Place 18 W. 2nd Street  
  Moshier's Tavern 103 E. Seneca St.  
  Lowlife Caffe Water Street  
  Lake Effects 45 W. Bridge St. Golden  
  Golden Dragon Oneida Street  
  Soreno's Trackside Inn 1 Willow St.  
  Savas Taproom    
  O'Keefe's Grill    
  The Mush Room    
  Father Eli    
  Amedio's Achor    
  Marie's City Lights    
  The Odyssey Bar    
  Chart Room    
  Hawleys Riverview    
  Motyka's Grill    
  Carousel Horse    





We need pictures of these long lost bars above.

Please send them to ""


Oompa's Up In Smoke


Buckland's Grill Before They Demolished It


Copyright 2002