The gilded gas chandeliers of a Village pharmacy

Bigelowstorefront2014Just how old is Bigelow Pharmacy in the West Village?

Well, the nation’s oldest apothecary got its start on Sixth Avenue in 1838.

Back then, West Eighth Street was still called Clinton Place, the Erie Canal was just 13 years old, city limits didn’t stretch much past Union Square, and Martin Van Buren occupied the White House.


Bigelow’s current building dates to 1902. A visit there is like a trip back in time: wood shelves, scrolling library-like ladders, and old-school chemists’ bottles on display in the top cabinets.


The chandeliers, however, might be the best relic. These gilded gothic-style beauties were originally powered by gas.

BigelowssodafountainReportedly the gas jets still work—or at least they did when they were turned on during the city-wide blackouts of 1965 and 1977.

Now if only they kept the soda fountain, a hangout for Villagers (and supposedly the cast of Saturday Night Live in the 1970s) for decades until the 1980s. [Bottom photo: from Bigelow Pharmacy via Crain’s New York]

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6 Responses to “The gilded gas chandeliers of a Village pharmacy”

  1. JJ Minihan Says:

    It’s so incredibly beautiful
    I will have to go visit

  2. marilyn fish Says:

    I remember the old lunch counter/soda fountain. I had breakfast there every morning when I lived in the village. The three countermen were cry long time employees. They knew everyone, were always in a great mood. It was a wonderful place to start the day as if with family.

  3. trilby1895 Says:

    Bigelow’s IS incredibly beautiful; one of my favorite Village haunts. Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, I’ve read, had an account in their pharmacy. I still miss the soda fountain…

  4. The mortar and pestles of a former city pharmacy | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] least we still have C.O. Bigelow on Sixth Avenue, with its vintage chandeliers and wood ladders—and a handful of other independent […]

  5. tipandjaminwonderland Says:

    Several years ago we were tourists falling in love with the city. As we were walking through neighborhoods admiring the remnants of another era we stumbled across Bigelows. Just one more reason to love New York.

  6. What remains of 3 old-school corner drugstores | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] signs, decorative mortar and pestles, brass chandeliers, wood shelves with sliding ladders…there’s a lot to love about New York’s […]

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