Thursday, June 2, 2011

Elliott Pharmacy

The Elliott Pharmacy, serving New Yorkers since 1898, has closed in Gramercy.



The Duane Reade nearby is covered with signs saying "Welcome Elliott Pharmacy Customers," as they snatch up another mom-and-pop.

all following photos: my flickr 2008-2010

I always liked the pharmacy's signage and have taken a few pictures of it over the years. I especially liked the words "Ethical Apothecary" written in gold leaf on the door--long before gold leaf and the word "apothecary" were trendy.

I also liked how Elliott's stood stoic next to the Warshaw hardware store, another holdout, its old sign announcing it's been there since 1928--just a baby next to 113-year-old Elliott.

How does it happen, time and again? A New York City business survives for eons, a whole century and more--through two World Wars, the Great Depression, the high crime and economic doldrums of the 1970s--only to vanish at the same time that so many other long-term survivors are vanishing, in the span of a single decade.

This time in New York will be remembered as a mass extinction, like the Cretaceous-Tertiary event, a die-off when so much life just suddenly disappeared.


Harry said...

I also liked the words "Ethical Apothecary". Once upon a time the word Ethical meant something, these days; to the Yunnie mentality it means less than zero….it’s just something to hide behind, while they cheat, deceive and steal so they can buy 9 dollar cupcakes.

Why on Earth people would rather go to Duane Reade, than the Elliott Pharmacy is beyond me. The Elliott Pharmacy was my local pharmacy from the late 60’s to the early 80’s. They greeted you by your first name and made you feel welcomed, not like the disingenuous “Greeters” at Duane Reade. Also at Elliott Pharmacy, if you had financial restraints; they let you pay over the course of a few weeks. Try that at Duane Reade.

Adam Rabasca said...

Ironically enough, the medium through which we now communicate is the likely culprit. We may purchase books, bookstores being another victim of this modernity, and medications over the Internet, unfortunately ending the existence of historically relevant landmarks.

Tom Christie said...

I agree Adam. I think the internet and the widespread use of computers is ultimately to blame for most of the gentrification. It would be impossible to police or govern a city of this size without computers. As soon as that technology became available in a large scale in the mid-90's, the city started seeing crime reductions. People don't need to leave their apartment to satisfy social cravings in the way they used to because of the internet. They can learn about other people's lives through social networks. Porn websites have replaced red-light districts. The streets aren't needed by the people in the same way that made old New York have a more communal, vibrant, human-scale life to it that is largely absent now. Not to mention, the population is growing, and they need somewhere to go, and old neighborhoods are being "invaded".

I have another theory that the internet has damaged this generation's social skills, and has lead to alcohol abuse becoming the social medium of choice. People raised in front of screens are too uncomfortable around others unless they're hammered drunk.

BaHa said...

A couple of weeks ago, Sam Sifton reviewed a restaurant in Queens, in which he sadly referred to the supposedly glacial pace of gentrification in the area. My first thought was, my god, they are going to take the entire city. And so they are.

c.o. moed said...

I'm just so effing depressed.

Caleo said...

I think Tom Christie hit the nail on the head. As with EVGrieve lamenting the loss of ZIG ZAG records, I have young cousins in the suburbs who have never been in an actual record store. Every music purchase they've ever made has been online. And a depressing number of people who need a Kindle. It's bad enough to buy actual books online, but now you don't even need that. The herd instinct is very strong in most people.
Top that off with wave after wave of gentrifying hipsters who are a 3rd or 4th generation raised in the suburbs, completely severed from any genuine ethnic connection in their own families.They get here, and honestly have no idea why anyone would want to preserve anything "old". They literally don't get it. Only the NEW holds any attraction for them.
As Mr. Moss said, this is a mass extinction event. THEY own and control the city now, and it will be forced to conform with their desires and expectations, no matter who or what stands in their way. The onslaught can't stop or slow down. Whatever came before must be torn down and paved over and reconfigured so that they feel comfortable and in control.

Marty Wombacher said...

How tacky of Duane Reade, but what else would you expect? And I agree with Adam and Tom on their internet theories. While I'm on the internet way more than I would care to admit, I wish it never happened.

James Taylor said...

Some of these comments are brilliant. They've said more than I could have so I'll leave it at that.

Srl said...

caleo's comment said it well. i remember in boston we had a pharmacy w/a counter serving sandwiches, beverages, breakfast etc. i would buy a paper & have coffee while the owner would fill the prescription. then they had to close as the CVS opened down the street. this was like in 1983, after 40 yrs! that was real service & very comfortable. they would deliver in an emergency, i lived down the street.

Ken Mac said...

Computers the culprit? Only to a small degree. It's more about money. The big box drug stores can pay massive rents anywhere in town. ditto for hardware stores, chain restaurants. If you're a building owner you want the mom and pop out, and the $$$ chain in. SO a city of flesh and blood disappears, replaced by the home office hiding behind blue glass and steel.

bowery boy said...

Just wanna add my agreement to the above comments. It's to the point now where everytime I buy books or music online, I feel a pang of guilt in my stomach, and everytime I hear of another terrific store closing, I blame myself for buying online. The internet makes it easier to mark off things on my To Do list, but more and more they seem to be coming at a higher/different price. ugh.

Anonymous said...

I was a long time customer of Elliot Pharmacy. The real reason behind its demise is not the 800# gorilla of Duane Reade.

Sadly, one of the 2 brothers who owned the Pharmacy is quite ill and the other brother decided to close up shop after running it together for more than 20 years.

I stopped in on the last day of business, and many in the neighborhood were also there saying goodbye.

I'll miss these guys a lot, they've helped me through a few illnesses and more. I'm on the search for another "Mom and Pop" pharmacy in the neighborhood. Anyone have a recommendation?

Ms. said...

Warshaw is a nit a pharmacy but aHardware store...and they are still there and still about the only hardware store that really sells hardware.

Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks Ms.--bad typo! i'll fix it.