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Nurturing Health and Community: Our Neighborhood Pharmacies

Amidst the bustling streets and historic architecture, our neighborhoods’ numerous independent pharmacies stand as critical community pillars of health. These establishments aren’t just places to pick up prescriptions; they are integral parts of the neighborhood, providing essential healthcare services and advice.

Bigelow Building on Sixth Avenue. Source: Wikipedia

Every year National Pharmacist Day celebrates our unsung heroes in healthcare – our pharmacists. In the heart of New York City, Greenwich Village stands out as a unique community where pharmacies play a vital role in ensuring the well-being of its residents.

Pharmacists go beyond the mere dispensing of medications; they are healthcare partners who ensure the safe and effective use of prescribed treatments. In Greenwich Village, pharmacists play a crucial role in educating patients about their medications, potential side effects, and overall health management.

Their expertise extends to collaborating with healthcare providers, contributing to a holistic approach to patient care. In a neighborhood where diversity is celebrated, pharmacists serve as a bridge between medical professionals and the community, ensuring personalized and culturally sensitive healthcare.

C.O. Bigelow in the 19th century. Source: New York Times

Our local pharmacies are deeply rooted in the fabric of the neighborhood. Some have roots going back all the way to the 19th century.

Landmarked interior of C.O. Bigelow. Source: New York Times

C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries has been a fixture in Greenwich Village for over 180 years. Established in 1838, it is one of the oldest pharmacies in the United States. Known for its old-world charm, C.O. Bigelow has a rich history of serving the community with a wide range of pharmaceutical and beauty products, including their own brand of finely crafted products. It’s also a popular destination for unique and specialty items.

Thompson Chemists storefront in 2018. Source: New York Times

Thompson Chemists located in the Thompson-Sullivan Historic District, part of the South Village, has been serving the neighborhood since 1994. This independent pharmacy is known for its personalized service and commitment to the community, which includes live musical performances right in the pharmacy itself on the 2nd, 4th, and 5th Tuesday of every month. In 2018 the New York Times described Thompson Chemists as “magic, a quintessential New York neighborhood drugstore.”

Live music in Thompson Chemists. Source: New York Times

While not a traditional pharmacy dispensing medications, and now owned by the global giant L’Oréal, Kiehl’s was once a local homeopathic pharmacy in the East Village. The first Kiehl’s shop was located at Third Avenue and East 13th Street. While the the tagline for Kiehl’s is “Since 1851,” the original corner shop that it still inhabits today was actually the home to two previous businesses,  Brunswick Apotheke (founded in 1851) and then Englehardt & Huber Apothecary, that John Kiehl took over in 1894 after his apprenticeship. The site was also home to the famed Stuyvesant Pear Tree planted by Peter Stuyvesant and a direct link to when New York was still New Amsterdam until the tree was felled in 1867. 

Kiehl’s at the corner Third Avenue and East 13th Street. Source: Ephemeral New York

These pharmacies and the people that work there have not only been serving the community’s healthcare needs, but have also become integral parts of the neighborhood’s cultural and historical fabric. Their longevity and commitment highlight the enduring importance of community pharmacies in preserving the health and well-being of the neighborhood.

1862 drawing of the Stuyvesant Pear Tree from Harper’s New Monthly Magazine. Source: New-York Historical Society

There are many more incredible pharmacies with wonderful histories to explore. Every month we select a special independent store to honor in Greenwich Village, the East Village, or NoHo for our Business of the Month. Make sure to take a look at the Business of the Month map and list to find out more and learn about several other wonderful pharmacies in our neighborhoods. 

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