What remains of 3 old-school corner drugstores

Neon signs, decorative mortar and pestles, brass chandeliers, wood shelves with sliding ladders…there’s a lot to love about New York’s longtime independent pharmacies.

Many of these corner stores have been in business for over a century, yet have somehow resisted getting steamrolled by Duane Reade.

I don’t know how long M&M Pharmacy has been on Avenue M and East 19th Street in Midwood. But the signage, at least, dates to the 1940s.

The corner neon sign with the Rx is a wonderful relic—and when was the last time you saw the word “toiletries” on a store sign?

The English lettering on M&M’s weathered neon sign looks very 1940s (the Cyrillic script, clearly, is not quite as old).

But inside the store, past the wood shelves, are Art Deco–inspired signs at the prescription counter that look like they’re from the 1920s or 1930s. (Thanks to D.S. for getting the inside and outside views.)

Another old-school corner drugstore that caught my eye is Health Wise, on York Avenue and 79th Street.

The website says this pharmacy has been run by the same family since 1992. But based on the gorgeous neon sign that casts a lovely glow at York Avenue and 79th Street, I wonder if the store has been there a lot longer.

Also in Yorkville on First Avenue and East 65th Street is Goldberger’s, in business since the Spanish American War. It’s the signage on the sides of the store, however, that make me feel like I’ve stepped into a noir.

Cosmetics, drugs, prescriptions…and then the fanciful Goldberger’s lettering, in script. New York drugstores had everything. Now if only this sign still lit up in neon!

[Top 3 photos: D.S.]

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11 Responses to “What remains of 3 old-school corner drugstores”

  1. Beelzabubba Says:

    Seems like M&M has been bought by CVS (there is a small square sign on the door.)

    These relics are becoming a thing of NY’s past with many of them becoming Duane Reades or CVS.

    Not sure many of us are enjoying how NY is really becoming a place for the rich while the ones who made it what it is are being out priced.

    Love your posts. Thank you for keeping some memory of the past alive.

    • Nicole Says:

      If I’m right, that’s just a sign saying they accept CVS Caremark prescription benefits. Not that they’re owned by CVS

  2. Laura Wilke. Says:

    Thanks for posting these. I love seeing old signs and these are a relic from when each couple of blocks was a neighborhood and you could get everything you needed in a few brick radius.

  3. Josh Says:

    Goldberger’s lights up beautifully. But they turn it off every night at closing time.

  4. Sally F Says:

    Thanks, love this!

  5. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Thank you! Even though M&M is part of CVS now, the old signage remains…not for long, probably. And I’ll have to visit Goldberger’s during business hours to see that gorgeous sign illuminate First Avenue!

  6. Rob Greenfield Says:

    I can’t recall the prior name for Health Wise, but it’s been a pharmacy on that corner going back to before 1971, when I moved to the neighborhood and began passing that block on a regular basis (the York Deli next door — with the sliver of the Pepsi signage — has been there all this time as well). Where the sign now says “Health Wise” was originally also an extension of the neon sign.

  7. kl3eo Says:

    The M&M downline says ‘We accept Medicad and all basic insurances”, btw. Wonder if it makes feel home again 🙂

  8. David H Lippman Says:

    My grandfather’s pharmacy’s signs at the northeast corner of 186th Street and Amsterdam Avenue survived until Yeshiva University bought the property and turned the shuttered store into their bookstore sometime in the 1990s.

    It was one of the places my father took me to on our last trip to New York together before he died, when he made sure I knew our family history.

  9. Bud Says:

    I grew up on Ocean Avenue between L and M. I can remember going shopping with my mom and grandmother as far back as 1959 or 1960 and M & M Pharmacy was already there. Down the block was a coffee shop named Paradise, further down was Edward’s Department Store, across the street was a live poultry market, and just a couple doors down from there was a kosher deli. Those were great days

  10. Matt G Says:

    In the 2000s, my girlfriend (now wife) lived at 79th and York, and we frequented Healthwise Pharmacy. At the time, that block of York had a handful of older stores and restaurants. Before Wine at 79 moved in and put up their sign, the previous occupant’s sign had their phone number the old-fashioned way, with letters in the prefix.

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