Posts Tagged ‘C.O. Bigelow’

The gilded gas chandeliers of a Village pharmacy

January 20, 2014

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]

The most iconic faded ad in Greenwich Village

September 17, 2012

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.