The most iconic faded ad in Greenwich Village

I have no idea when this advertisement for Bigelow’s Pharmacy first went up on the side of the Sixth Avenue store’s building at Ninth Street.

But I’m glad that it’s still in pretty good shape. Bigelow’s has been in business since Martin Van Buren was president, and its famous customer list includes Thomas Edison, Mark Twain, and Eleanor Roosevelt.

“The business of C. O. Bigelow, Inc., retail drug prescriptions, is one of the oldest of its kind in the world. Its activity extends all over the world and includes the filling of orders from such distant places as India and Africa,” a New York Times real estate article explained in 1937.

The soda fountain is gone, but the cool old store sign is still out front. Inside are original wooden cabinets and old-timey chandeliers with gas jets.

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12 Responses to “The most iconic faded ad in Greenwich Village”

  1. JTS Says:

    That sign can’t be any older than 1947, because that’s the year that Bell switched from the call sign / number system to 7 digit direct dialing. The fonts and styling also point to a just post WWII date. I’d wager a bet that they would have included the area code if those were in common use when the sign was painted, and since those didn’t come into being until 1951, that gives a window of late 40s / early 50s for the sign.

  2. JTS Says:

    Ah, after doing a little more digging, I see that NYC went to direct dial in 1920, well before the rest of the country. However, 533 was a Brooklyn exchange until 1947, and I suppose the re-numbering of exchanges took place when the rest of the country when direct dial. So my guess at the dating still stands.

  3. RWils Says:

    You can clearly see the “ORANGE”, company logo at the bottom;that logo looks about 1970′s, early 80′s. The phone number does not use the neighborhood alphabet prefix exchange (which many New Yorkers held onto long past the phone co. dropping them). Sign painting was still done through the mid 1980′s.
    I remember a lot of painted ads still happening in Times Square and some random buildings around town but eventually jumbo printed signs took over. As the craft got more costly businesses stopped using the painters. It was really amazing to see them in action. It was not so long ago.

  4. wildnewyork Says:

    Great detective work! Considering that it’s in such good shape, it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s from the mid-1980s…which is already 30 years ago.

  5. E. Coli Says:

    There’s no area code (and no letter prefixes), and 718 didn’t come around until 1984, so it’s probably late 70s or early 80s. The ad is trying too hard to look retro (even for back then) than just being old.

  6. Upstate Ellen Says:

    I think it’s great that Bigelow’s is still in business after all this time. For one of my town’s major milestones, a certain local business was identified as being the oldest in continuous operation, going back well over a century. Just a few years later, the owners had a falling out; the business closed its doors and its assets were sold to the highest bidder. Sad.

  7. Ryan Says:

    I stayed at a little motel on the north fork for labor day weekend and they had C.O. Bigelow soaps and shampoo’s. Always being curious I looked to see where it was from and it indicated that it was distributed by a company with an italian sounding name and an address of 414 6th Ave NYC. I still have the soap since my wife saves all the travel sized stuff for future trips. Maybe they license the name?

  8. EV Grieve Etc.: Mourning edition « NYC Real Estate News Says:

    [...] A great ad for Bigelow’s Pharmacy (Ephemeral New York) [...]

  9. nabeguy Says:

    It was definitely put up around 1980. I lived on 8th Street bet. 5th and 6th back then and used to pass by it just about every day.

  10. Real Estate News NYC via Tigho | EV Grieve Etc.: Mourning edition - Real Estate News NYC via Tigho Says:

    […] A great ad for Bigelow’s Pharmacy (Ephemeral New York) […]

  11. The gilded gas chandeliers of a Village pharmacy | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] how old is Bigelow Pharmacy in the West […]

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