The mortar and pestles of a former city pharmacy

Today, 1209 Lexington Avenue is the home of a Warby Parker store, part of the trendy national eyewear chain.

But from 1899 to 2012, this was Lascoff Apothecary, a pharmacy on the corner at 82nd Street that was so old-school, they used to sell leeches.

Lascoff’s was a New York pharmacy at its finest, the kind of place with a pharmacist-owner running the show that every neighborhood had, before the era of Rite-Aid and Duane Reade (which have their benefits but are low on charm).

“The space was known and admired for its large, arched windows, cathedral ceilings, wrap-around mezzanine and hanging blade sign,” stated DNAInfo four years ago.

The sign has been replaced, the exterior painted over, and the apothecary jars, flasks of poison, and pharmaceutical scales that decorated the interior long removed.

But the facade still tips passersby off to the drugstore that used to be here.

Just look up at the mortar and pestles carved above the entrance.

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

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12 Responses to “The mortar and pestles of a former city pharmacy”

  1. alaspooryorick Says:

    For a minor injury or illness in France, a pharmacist is still the first to be consulted. My excellent Duane Reade pharmacist told me his father’s practice (possibly in USSR) was similar. Perhaps Lascoff’s dispensed and applied leeches on site. “During the so-called ‘leech craze’ of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the leech was established as a reliable, and in some cases superior, means of venesection, ousting the more traditional lancet.”
    source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3143864/

  2. Michael Leddy Says:

    Lascoff makes an appearance in a single sentence in Gay Talese’s New York: A Serendipiter’s Journey:

    https://mleddy.blogspot.com/2016/01/leeches-catnip-oil-strange-potions.html

    The neon sign remained for a while, minus Lascoff Drugs but still bearing the word Prescriptions. (Google Maps shows it.) Is it now just gone? (If I lived in NY, I’d answer my own question.)

  3. Greg Says:

    God, why would they take the nice cornice off the building. Vandals.

  4. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    It’s now a Warby Parker sign!

  5. James T. Tang Says:

    You should take a look at Eisler Chemists on 79th Street and Lex (a few blocks south from the former Lascoff’s). It is still in business

    On Mon, Aug 27, 2018 at 2:14 AM Ephemeral New York wrote:

    > ephemeralnewyork posted: “Today, 1209 Lexington Avenue is the home of a > Warby Parker store, part of the trendy national eyewear chain. But from > 1899 to 2012, this was Lascoff Apothecary, a pharmacy on the corner at 82nd > Street that was so old-school, they used to sell leeches. ” >

  6. Velvethead Says:

    I guess the cornice wasn’t “Millennial” enough for them.

  7. petey Says:

    i see you’ve been up my neighborhood …

  8. David H Lippman Says:

    Grandpa was a pharmacist and he indeed had a mortar and pestle to make prescriptions.

    • alaspooryorick Says:

      A quick search of the internet revealed this bit of info:
      The mortar and pestle are a set of tools that have been around for centuries, with evidence of this set being used all the way back in 35,000 BC. The Papyrus Ebers, an Egyptian medical document, contains the first documented record of the mortar and pestle from 1550 BC.

  9. Fallopia Tuba (@franklanguage) Says:

    And don’t forget, we still have Kiehl’s since 1851, which I read somewhere was also a pharmacy—called Pear Tree pharmacy, a reference to the famous pear tree on the corner—prior to being named Kiehl’s.

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