Monday, February 23, 2009

Lascoff Drugs

In a city overrun by Duane Reades, sterile and bland, walking into Lascoff's Pharmacy on Lexington and 82nd is like being in The Wizard of Oz when everything goes from black-and-white to brilliant Technicolor.

The venerable Forgotten New York tackled Lascoff's last year, reporting: "Pharmacist J. Leon Lascoff (1867-1943) emigrated from Russia (he was from today's Poland) in 1892 and opened an apothecary in a brownstone building on the SW corner of Lexington Avenue and East 82nd in 1899."

Everywhere you look in Lascoff's there's something fascinating to see. Wooden cabinets hold ancient amber bottles stoppered with corks and labeled in vanished typefaces: Dogwood, Oak Bark, Soda Mint Granules. Drawers are stuffed with herbs and labeled with mystical-sounding names like Verbascum.

More cabinets display the pharmacy's history, including photos that go all the way back to the days when medicinal leeches came in stoneware jars. Yes, leeches:

You can't get leeches at Lascoff's anymore, but you can find plenty of odd products, like interesting soaps and combs from far-flung places, as well as the usual stuff you get at Duane Reade. Here's something to think about: What if, instead of DRs, every corner in the city had a Lascoff's?

See all my photos of Lascoff's here


Melanie said...

I must pay a visit.

Anonymous said...

that's really cool!! i must take a look.

also, I'd like to thank you for keeping this blog. although I am a latecomer here, you've managed to keep me abreast of the changing city & so much has changed since I started reading.... My friends at home seem to be clueless about the changes, or jaded, I don't know, but it's important stuff to me.

I left very jaded & no longer in love with NYC 4 years ago. I make my return at the end of this month & I don't have to feel out of the loop. I know what's gone & that lessens the shock! Thanks & keep it up!

Bombshell Babe said...

Thank you for this. I used to work nearby Lascoff's and would often visit on my lunch hour to buy European soaps and bath products. I no longer live in NY and miss Lascoff's and all those quaint apothecaries. Your beautiful photos took me back to NYC.

Lonnie Chu said...

We just stumbled upon Lascoff Drugs when visiting the city last week. We were thoroughly entranced by the place. What held my interest the longest, however, were the wonderful hats they're selling there! I neglected to write down any information about them. Who is making them? Is there any way to buy them if not from Lascoff's Drugs?

Katheen said...

That is a wonderful place, it's like entering a time warp. We were visiting Thanksgiving week last year. We were in that area and needed something for my stomach. We happened by a policeman and he directed us to Lascoff. My family just loved it. We spent more time being amazed by the antique pharmacy regalia then getting remedy for my stomach.

Elizabeth Manus said...

Today is Lascoff's last day. It's closing.

Anonymous said...

I use a special medicine that only Lascoff's made. I would trek to the East Side from the Upper West Side just to get it. Now what do I do?

More importantly, we are losing the special character of New York. I wonder what will replace Lascoff's? A Seven Eleven?

Jo Ann