Today, Pfizer is the largest pharmaceutical company in the world, with dozens of factories and research labs across the country, over 100,000 employees, and hundreds of billions in revenue. Amazing to think it all got started in a now-empty factory on the border between South Williamsburg and Bed-Stuy.
Pfizer was founded as a fine chemicals business in 1849 by German-American cousins Charles Pfizer and Charles Erhardt at the corner of Harrison Ave and Bartlett Street. Their first success was an anti-parasitic called santonin, though citric acid production was the real early moneymaker.
As the company grew, the cousins bought up land around their property, eventually occupying an entire block bordered by Tompkins, Ellery, Marcy, and Flushing.
Despite a lack of space, significant downturns in the neighborhood, and the high costs of operating in New York City, Pfizer maintained its operations here for over 150 years in what seems almost to have been a loyalty to its birthplace.
You can find a lot of great remnants from older Pfizer days, like this sign above one of the entrances:
Another entrance, with a cool art-deco motif:
>>>Continue reading “Exploring The Abandoned Pfizer Chemical Plant in Brooklyn”
Hidden on the second floor of this building adjacent to the JMZ elevated train line in South Williamsburg is Frenchie’s Gym, a slice of authentic old school Brooklyn culture that has somehow managed to avoid the gentrification wrecking ball rapidly swinging toward it.
Blink and you’ll miss it. From the ground level, the only evidence of a gym is this red awning over a wooden door. No neon signs with enormous fist icons, eXtreme in-your-face fonts, or toned girls with clipboards trying to sucker you into trading your soul for a duffel bag.
But to those that look closely, the door alone should give an early indication that Frenchie’s has infinitely more character than any modern gym you’ll find anywhere in New York City. Old polished wood, worn with age, surrounds chicken-wire glass. The type of door they don’t make anymore. The type of door no one would ever put on a modern gym.
This is the kind of door that reminds me of a Raymond Chandler novel – private dick Philip Marlowe standing in front of it, hand on the knob, sucking on a cigarette and debating whether or not the low pay he’s getting for the case is worth the risk of going upstairs to question a suspect who looks like the guy on the glass.
Of course, Marlowe would go up, and I had to too.
>>>Continue reading “Frenchie’s Gym – Not Your Local Crunch”
I frequently drive past this parking lot at Kent and Broadway in Williamsburg. Whenever I pass, I notice the psychedelic bus parked there…
…and I wonder: what’s the story with the pit bull sitting in the second to last seat?
. . .
→ Read More: The Psychedelic Bus Dog
It’s funny how you stumble on interesting bits in the unlikeliest of places. I was scouting Broadway in Brooklyn, which runs underneath the elevated JMZ train and is basically a series of greasy restaurants, dollar stores, and bodegas.
If you look closely, partially covered up by the 99¢ store . . .
→ Read More: Tragedy on Broadway
Right at the corner of Wythe and Division St in South Williamsburg is this sign for the “Novelty Polyethylene Bag Corp.”
I’m not sure how old it is, but the fact that the telephone number doesn’t include an area code might be a hint that it’s got some years on it (apparently, . . .
→ Read More: The Novelty Polyethylene Bag Corp.
I was under the JMZ elevated subway line in South Williamsburg today near Marcy Ave when I noticed this steel rose bolted to the ground:
I’m not sure if this was commissioned by the city, or installed by an anonymous artist under the cover of night – there wasn’t a plaque around to explain . . .
→ Read More: A Rose Grows In Brooklyn