Exploring The Abandoned Pfizer Chemical Plant in Brooklyn

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.

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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.

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As the company grew, the cousins bought up land around their property, eventually occupying an entire block bordered by Tompkins, Ellery, Marcy, and Flushing.

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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:

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Another entrance, with a cool art-deco motif:

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And lining the building…

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…are numerous “Pfizer Quality” emblems:

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By 2005, over 2 billion pills were being manufactured here annually, ranging from Zoloft to Lipitor to Viagra. Then, in 2008, the plant was finally shuttered for good.

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A few weeks ago, I received an email from the new owners inviting me to take a look inside. Exactly what this all will become is still being worked out, but in the meantime, they’re more than happy to consider film production and photoshoot rentals (that includes you, student films with a limited budget!). The building is absolutely enormous, with hundreds of possible uses…

…But why don’t we take a look around?

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Very little has changed since the final Pfizer employee walked out the front doors. We started down the entrance hallway, still lined with company slogans…

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…as well as some historical photographs, like this 1936 picture of a man working a citrus concentrator.

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Another, taken in 1945, of the Penicillin labeling line (I love that masked figure through the rear window):

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From there, we headed past the old security desk and into the building:

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This place is HUGE.

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Absolutely enormous.

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Cavernous warehouse spaces can be found at any turn in the 8-story building, and I had lost my bearings within minutes of walking in.

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The pipes alone should give you a sense of the size and scope (note the one for “breathing air”):

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We started our tour on the 7th floor…

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…where dozens of old labs line the perimeter, many with great views of the city:

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Many were built in the 1970’s, and I’m told you really don’t see this sort of design anymore:

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Lots of drawers:

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Chemical hoods, providing ventilation for noxious substances:

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What really surprised me though was how much equipment Pfizer left behind. Like this – what is this?!

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Oh, of course. A Doctor Machine.

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Here’s another, across the room:

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In fact, Pfizer left thousands of pieces of equipment, right down to the old 70’s pencil sharpeners on the wall. And yes, all of this can be used as props for film shoots.

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A biohazard cabinet (glad the sign below says empty):

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Cool old blue shelving:

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I love the glass corner offices in some of the labs.

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Worn steam heaters, used for heating beakers (hence the different sizes):

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What size beaker are you looking for? They had ‘em all…

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This is the sort of thing that really gets the science nerd in me excited – I love random high tech electrical equipment, and it’s fun to actually get to push all the buttons without, you know, getting killed or blowing something up:

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The stroboscope control unit. I’ve been meaning to get a new one.

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One of my favorite closets in the building. I wonder if this was ever used?

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There’s a lot of great left-over signage. I like the enormous red hand telling the little man not to come in:

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I was assured that the place has been fully cleaned and inspected a zillion times over, so you can feel safe ignoring signs like this:

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Awesome stencil glass lettering on chicken-wire glass:

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Do not enter this room without…

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Every once in a while, we’d come across a room that looked like the Incredible Hulk had ripped a hole through the wall. Apparently, some of the equipment Pfizer removed was so big, these needed to be cut to get it out.

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We then took a stop in this room…

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This is some sort of pill mixer…

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…but what’s especially neat is that it stretches down to the lower floor…

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…where a little tap could be opened at the bottom:

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Two more in the room:

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Inside the mixing unit:

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Nearby were two container lifts…

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…and the computer to operate them (featuring a legendary Shiny Red Button):

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In another cavernous space…

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…I love the mezzanine “overseers” level:

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Further up the stairs are a bunch of sealed off rooms…

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…used for God knows what purpose:

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Ah, photohelics – got it:

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The plant sort of reminded of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory (er, if Willy Wonka made Viagra). Like this “TopGrade Collection” arm – did you put pills in here to be suctioned away?? (it’s actually a ventilation unit, used if vapors are suddenly in the air):

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On the ground floor is a full doctor’s office, complete with waiting room…

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…and several examination rooms:

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It seems like you were probably in bad shape if you had to go in this very claustrophobic windowed room (actually, writes reader Marie, this was used for hearing tests, which were given daily to employees engaged in louder operations):

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One of my favorite relics in the entire plant – a beautiful old optics desk…

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…filled with those little lenses for checking vision:

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A lens:

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And that’s barely scratching the surface. There’s a cafeteria…

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Food lines:

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A big kitchen:

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A store (could double as a post office):

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A gym for employees:

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Locker rooms (with authentic locker room odor!):

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Cubicle space:

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Hallways and entrance ways (reminds me of a public school):

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And endless numbers of open rooms (police station, anyone?):

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Several areas are large enough to be used as stage space, and qualify for the NY tax credit.

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And I really cannot convey how much stuff was left behind, all usable as props…

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…from filing cabinets and desks…

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…to this…What is this??

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And to top it off, tons and tons of parking:

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Pfizer’s bond with this part of Brooklyn was of the sort that may never be seen again. According to the NY Times, despite numerous companies fleeing New York City during the 1970’s, “Pfizer, wanting to hold onto both its veteran work force and its birthplace, decided to help rebuild the neighborhood, on the theory that it would be both good for business and good for the neighbors.”

It worked with the city to create jobs and housing, donating land and cleaning up the neighborhood (remember: that’s South Williamsburg in the 1970’s). When an educational reform group expressed interest in creating a neighborhood charter school, Pfizer leased an entire 4-story building for $1 a year, spent half a million on renovations, and even lent their engineers to design the school’s science labs.

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Sad to see an era come to a close, but Pfizer left a positive mark on Brooklyn that will be felt for years to come, and hopefully, others will be inspired to follow in its footsteps. Thanks to all the great comments for clearing up some of my questions!

-SCOUT

Finally, one last important device in the old Pfizer lab…

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Yup – that’s the dust collector.

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106 comments

  1. That was really cool! Thank you for sharing it. I love old abandoned buildings, but it’s really awesome to see more recently abandoned ones like this as well. Kudos to the new owners for allowing everything in it to be utilized!

  2. Great post Scout! I have to ask, how long did it take you to tour through the whole place?

  3. Excellent reporting Scout! Well done and as always, thank you!

  4. Jamsire Ernoir

    Thanks for posting this – I grew up in Lindsay Park, two blocks away and always marveled at this STRUCTURE! Even as I drive through there sometimes as a shortcut off the BQE on my way to Staten Island, I still look at it and >>WONDER<<.

    What's interesting is that the CASCADE soap factory is down the block!

  5. Wow. That is an amazing space, indeed. I loved the efficiency of the MTs on the empty blue drawers. Also, the wonderful green and yellow tiling and the curvy signage in the cafeteria food lines–and that Pfactory Outlet (oh, I bet the guy who came up with that felt he was so clever!).

    A lot that could be done with it. I hope that film production can keep it going; I’d hate to see it torn down. Those art deco flourishes really save it–and I love the curved exterior front.

  6. That was fantastic! I love seeing stuff like that. When it’s a state like this it leans more on the interesting side than that creepy side. It’s cool to know something like that is right in our midst.

    P.S. The deco signage was gorgeous. I hope it stays no matter what happens to the building.

  7. how did you get access? Did someone show you around? Im into Urbex photography and always looking to shot things like that

    • In the post, the Scout says:

      “A few weeks ago, I received an email from the new owners inviting me to take a look inside.”

      and you can see his guide in the photo of the gym.

  8. Apropos of nothing, it’s amazing how much the pill mixer looks just like the bullet maker at the old Remington Factory in Bridgeport…down to the multi-floor set up of the machines.

    I really hope I get a script this will work for. Thanks.

  9. This is was an amazing find. Do you ever venture outside the city?

  10. Hi Scout! Great post as ever! I was wondering if I could use this image:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/scoutingny/5798625713/
    On Safety Graphic Fun? I’ve never seen a giant red hand before. Giant black hands are plentiful, but not red.

    Thanks and keep up the great work!

    How is your own film coming along?

    Julia

  11. I worked for Pfizer in that building for over 25 years….miss all the good times and my colleagues!

  12. My friend (recently departed) Margaret Billmyer worked in the labs since WWII until retirement in the late 80’s. Perhaps Alice knew her? She had bad rhuematoid arthritis, but kept chugging along. She went to the same church as the Pfizer family did in Clinton Hill (St. Luke’s on Washington Ave. and knew some of the family that still lived in hte area into the 40’s. The Pfizer mansion at 295 Washington is long gone (now the site of an apartment bldg), but Ehrhardt’s mansion is still there under restoration across the street. The Pfizers were something else, perhaps the like we will never see again.

    • My grandmother and mother knew Ms. Billmyer. Sorry to hear of her passing. My grandmother died in 1991. My mother passed away this past April 24.

    • My father, Tom Lloyd, was a good friend of Margaret’s too. They used to play bridge in the cafeteria at lunchtime. He passed away in 2010.

  13. If the Alice above is Alice Z. then we both fondly remember Margaret and in particular her green hat with the feather.

  14. extremely interesting! have lived in Brooklyn for 15 years and never knew this exsisted!
    questions:
    1)does pfizer still own this building and property?
    2) are there any plans for it? I.e. conversion to housing or demolition etc. it seems like this abandoned space would have developers fighting to buy it. very interested to know what future holds fir this place!

    thanks!

  15. Hello to Joe A and Alice… I worked there for 18 years and was part of the last group to leave those walls… It was more than a place to work – it was a functioning machine… with a heart that was the employees. Pfizer lost a lot when they closed that plant. It was an amazing place to work.

  16. I work in a pharmaceutical plant, and a lot of this stuff is pretty typical, such as the vessels that span floors. You need to be able to access the top of the vessel to charge material, and the bottom to empty it.

    The “stove” is actually an old-school steam heater, you put flasks in the holes to heat their contents, that’s why there are multi-sized rings.

    The “top grade” arm is a local ventilation unit, you move it to where you need ventilation, like where there is the potential for vapors to be emitted.

    In the “two more pill shakers” photo, the very tall silver structure in the middle is actually an elevator to lift containers to the upper level.

    No idea what the “Stanford” machine is!

    Thanks for sharing!

  17. I worked there for 28 years, loved every minute with my friends, Joe and Alice, Margaret and so many other great people. We were a family just not employees. Sad to see it so quite. Miss the old Pfizer. And everything is blue because that was our color! Pfizer Blue.

  18. Stanford has a website describing the “Doctor Machine” – http://www.stanfordproductsllc.com/english/files/products/doctorMachines.html . The “what is it” cans at the bottom look like pressurized solvent cannisters used in many industries that use solvents, developers, etc. We used much of the same equipment and labs in semiconductor manufacturing. Great tour through the building – thanks.

  19. I worked for Pfizer for 37 years, and in Brooklyn for 10 years in two different stints of five years each. I knew and worked with Joe A, Alice Z and Margaret Billmyer. I made many friends and enjoyed my time there – and I’m still seeing several of them after retiring in 2007. Brooklyn was a great place to go to and work – and it truly was “Pfizer family”. It’s sad to see it go….

  20. scout_exceptional coverage. My Aunt Harriet and Uncle Doug worked there from the 50’s until it closed. Aunt Harriet was the company nurse maybe even in that examination room. _thanks

  21. This was great–as an ex-Pfizer employee (though not at that plant), and an ex-NYer, this was really nice. I worked in Manhattan HQ, but always heard what a family the Brooklyn plant folks were. The closing of the plant was sad for many–but hopefully it will find new life in the movies (oh, that we all had such great second careers!).

  22. I am not in the film industry and my mind is just racing with all the possibilities! Great post, Scout! Love ‘em.

  23. Oh, and lovely to see all the Pfizer-ites commenting. It sounds like it was a great place to work.

  24. Excellent post! Those “sealed off rooms” almost look like autoclaves, for sterilizing large quantities of equipment.

  25. The pictures unfortunately don’t tell the whole story. This building was my home away from hoome for fourteen years. I left Brooklyn just about six months before they closed the building. Those of us who worked here made dozens of different products and billions of tablets so others could have better, more productive and comfortable lives. Some of us are still with the company, some have retired and some have moved on to another life. The original 1849 building was torn down in 2008. I have a brick on my desk from that building. It was right next to the school building which was Pfizer’s world headquarters ubtil the mid 50’s.

    Just a couple of comments: your tour actually started on the eighth floor. That’s where the labs were located. The “Doctor Machine” is actually a machine used for checking the labels that were put on the bottles of tablets. It was located in the QO room on the 5th floor. You incorrectly identified the Liquid mixing tanks (Zyrtec syrup and other products) as some sort of pill machine. The picture with all of the cubicles is the seventh floor, I know because the second cubicle in from the right was my home for my last five years in Brooklyn.

    • Hey Chris,

      This piece really brings me back. Although I was gone from Brooklyn for a few years before it closed I remember the days leading up to closing.

      There is so much history in that building. It was amazing.

      Scout,

      The holes in the brick are from moving equipment. If you look on the outside of the building from the parking lot side, you’ll see different colored bricks. The only way to get large equipment into the building was by removing exterior bricks, lifting the equipment with a crane and then pulling it in with pulleys and rope.

      Thanks for these pictures. It will bring back a lot of memories for a lot of good people.

    • Hey Chris. This really brings back memories. We had some good times there together.

  26. I worked in that plant. That was a wonderful visit, through your photos. Thanks!

  27. These are great pictures. Too bad though, there aren’t any of the other side of the street. That was more like what a traditional “chemical” plant looked like. It made about a hundred million pounds of product each year. Those big tanks that you used to see on the East River, with the Pfizer logo, used to serve that operation. Pfizer called it the Chemical Division.

  28. My sister worked for Pfizer for 13 years before the closed the plant. She told me about some people crying and screaming when they heard they were closing the place. Kudos to Pfizer for staying put even when other companies abandoned NYC.

  29. I worked for this wonderful company up until 2004… I truly miss working on the forth floor and hanging with really wonderful people… Miss it a whole lot!!!!

  30. Lourdes Rivera-Olsen

    Great photos. I had tears in my eyes thinking about how many times ive walked those hall ways. I worked there for 12 years. I was one who cried when they ended our time there. It was truly the best place to work. And you was a family there.

    The medical office was just like a dr’s office. You went there when you was sick and Charlotte the nurse treated you with kindness. They also did the medical evaluations, physicals, hearing and vision so you could have clearance to work there. That place did it all.

    I will cherish the memories forever!!!

    Thank you for doing this…..

  31. I worked in the plant. Great to see these photos, lots of fond and funny memories working with a great group of folks. Thanks for sharing the photos!

  32. Great post. Thank you to all the Pfizer people who shared their stories, it made an interesting post into a special one. Great stuff.

  33. Great photos and commentary, as usual Scout. Thanks! It is also nice to read so many happy memories in the comments.

    That claustrophobic little room in the medical office was a booth for hearing tests. All employees who are exposed to noise, such as in a manufacturing setting, have to have their hearing tested annually to detect any changes. Your subject would sit in the booth with a head set on and the tester would use a machine to test their hearing.

    Years ago I was the company nurse at our local newspaper and I had to do the hearing tests every year. We had a booth just like that.

  34. You know, I live about 2 blocks away and always wondered why the school that I have to walk past to get to the post office where I get my larger packages had Pfizer all over it! Very cool post. I will definitely be showing my mother this one!

  35. I too worked in the Brooklyn plant for nearly 11 years. I still work for Pfizer but I do miss the Brooklyn days. I agree with the comments that Brooklyn had a heart and sole. It may not have been the prettiest or most modern of Pfizer plants but the leadership, spirit and can do attitude of the people who worked there kept the plant viable and producing both old and developing new products for Pfizer many years after it was economically practicle. It is sad to see it empty but it does bring back many memories. Paul M.

    • I worked for Brooklyn site for about eight years being my first job in US. You say “Brooklyn had a heart..” but I can say Brooklyn had wonderful people who really worked hard for Pfizer.
      I have nice memories about people I worked with and 8th floor.
      I left Brooklyn in the last group of 65 people. I remember that day of December when I was ATS. I left my office located on 8th floor and I was looking to Labs. I realized that I am the only one in that area, Now, I feel sad seeing these pictures but I want to thank you Bianna for posting this on Linkedin.

  36. what are the plans for the property

  37. Can you give us the address, or the GPS coordinates, I would really like to see it in Google earth :)

  38. 630 Flushing Ave
    Brooklyn NY 11206

    This was great to look at, such memmories. I miss the Cafe!!!! boy you just don’t have that here in the South!!
    I actually saw my office space on the 7th floor, wow, this is were the materials department watch as the towers fell. We were a tight group.

    Great memmories. SMH

  39. The labs was actually on the 8th floor and the office cubicles were on the 7th…..

  40. My first childhood home was along that portion of Hopkins Street which became part of the parking lot behind these buildings. I’d be interested to know if eminent domain – ala Ratner – was used to obtain all the houses that used to be on this and the opposite block. With Pfizer gone, does this street now revert back to the city or does remain part of the property?

  41. I love this post! I’ll be going to college in Rochester this fall, so it would be great to go down there on a weekend for a film project.

    The only question I have is how would I contact the owners about using the building? And how much would they charge? I would really appreciate the info! Thanks!

    And thank you so much for putting this up, because even if I might not be able to use it, this is a fantastic opportunity for filmmakers on a tight budget.

  42. Yashvant Bakrania

    Those sealed rooms if I remember are on 6th floor are sampling rooms for taking samples of empty capsules (received from supplier) for testing before put into production. They used be steriled and then kept closed during taking samples.

  43. It’s unfortunate that Pfizer closed the facility, but not surprising. Multi-floor industrial buildings are pretty much obsolete. It’s much more efficient and cheaper to have everything on the same level.

  44. Wow thank you! I grew up in Bed-Stuy and lived about 15 minutes from the Plant. My mother worked at that plant for a few years and I even had a Summer job there during College.Thank you for the memories

  45. Thanks for sharing! I was also an employee for Pfizer for 13 yrs. Left in 2007. A lot of fond and fun memories. We were definitly more of a family than just emplyees.

  46. What fond memories I have of the plant. I met my future husband there and we are now married over 40 years. We still maintain many Pfizer friendships even though I left in 1975 to have my babies! I worked in the Quality Control department monitoring the manufacturing of tablets and capsules on the 4th floor before advancing to the 8th floor and the releasing the finished products. My husband worked there his entire career. It truly was like a big family.

    • Toni, Your husband Bill was in charge of diagnostic production making petri dishes with media. I worked in John Connolly’s enginering group on the 4th floor supporting Bill’s area.I only meet you once at a party at Ron Pomerantz’s home. Hope you and Bill are well. I still live in Brooklyn,in Bay Ridge.I worked in the Pharm industry until 1996 in various engineering jobs and now am self employed in a family business. I would love to hear from Bill and you to share some history. Kind Regards Nick Siragusa

      • Hi Nick…

        Boy it is amazing what “turns” up whwn one surfes etc. Did Toni respond…?

        We are in Florida…If you go south feel free to drop in for food and drink.

        Ron…

  47. I guess we never realized just how good we had it and what a great place Pfizer Brooklyn really was. I look at the 13-1/2 years I spent at Pfizer Brooklyn as a bright spot in both my career and life. I met so many talented, caring and hardworking people there and still am lucky enough to be in touch with many of them. Unlike anywhere else I have ever been – the term “Pfizer Pfamily” (yes the P before family is done on purpose) truly meant something to those that worked there. Thank you for the tour of a place I still carry as part of me everywhere I go. The place has a mystique about it and everyone who was blessed and fortunate to work there almost certainly carries it with them as well. To all who worked at this historic place – I wish you all well; we stand as Pfizer Pfamily.

  48. Wow…. I am proud to have enjopyed working there several years….the pictures brought back the memories of the good ole days. Thanks for sharing.

  49. victor echavarria

    Thank you for pictures a lot of good memories Pfizer Boklyn was the best place to worked I. Missed everybody except two supervisor that always gave me a hard times. LOL..

  50. LiveFor Freedom

    Thanks for the tour down memory lane. I worked at Pfizer for 34 years at the Groton CT site but would frequently travel to the Brooklyn Plant several times per year for manufacturing and testing in the 1980s and 1990s. This was the Institutional Memory of Pfizer when the Pfizer Family was still alive and well.

  51. My dad worked in brooklyn for 30 yrs until his unexpexted death in 1982 his name was Raymond Wolter Sr. I remember as a kid he sometimes came home smelling like vitamins and they also had a great bowling team . Thanks for the pictures

  52. Dieter Stueckle

    I’ve worked at this side many times as a supplier and consultant, this where the good old days.
    I think often about this place.

  53. I live a block from the Pfizer building. I walk by it nearly every day and always wondered what happened to it and if there was anyone that actually ventured through the doors these days.

    Last week around 130am the emergency light system went off. I wish I would have taken video. It was silent out and all you could see were these bright lights flashing in a random pattern in an old abandoned building. It reminded me of watching a haunted hospital come to life. It was very eerie and I have to admit it made me a little scared and I didn’t sleep very well that night.

  54. victor echavarria

    Those tanks ware located between 7 and 8 floor. Name of the area was tank farm we used to compound all the liquid.

  55. I was working for Pfizer when the plant closed. End of an era! This was as Pfizer started becoming more and more beholden to the almighty stockholders and less and less responsible in their interactions with communities, employees, and customers. It’s certainly come back to bite them. All those cutbacks to save a little money here and there so as to be able to show profits on paper decimated the company and left it a shell (oh, there’s another Pfizer memory – remember the ‘ghost tablets’ that came out after a XL pill was consumed?) of its former self. Yep, Pfizer is a hollow, ghost tablet floating in the porcelain throne of Corporate America.

  56. Scout, I actually worked in the Brooklyn Plant. What a great photo shoot. Thanks for capturing a part of history in Brooklyn. From a lifelong Brooklynite and pharma industry executive.

  57. Wonderful walk through the Brooklyn plant that I visited during my years as a training coordinator for Pfizer. Seeing things I hadn’t during the tour was interesting. I enjoyed the “family” of wonderful colleagues I worked with there. Still in contact with a few these days. Thanks for the walk down memory lane!

  58. Andy the Chemist

    And we forgot to mention that Pfizer-Brooklyn Colleagues Participate, in GREAT numbers, in socio-community events (Habitat for Humanity, J A Bowl-a-thon ect…
    And, boy do we know! how to party! …Like a Rockk Star!!!!
    Especially the QO group! RIght J.O., W.B.?

  59. Pat Jordan (maiden name)

    I worked in the quality control labs at the Brooklyn plant from 1965 to 1966 when I left to get married. It was my first job after college and I loved it. During the famous transit strike of 1966, I rode my bike to work with two of my friends…a great memory! The cafeteria food was pretty good as I remember it. The lab workers were a great group. Was sad to know that Pfizer is closed, but enjoyed the great photos.

  60. Quite the memory generator….I spent many days in this plant however only a fraction of the time so many others spent ; some dedicating entire careers across several generations. And many would argue that each person, each family, is better for their experience with Pfizer Brooklyn. Thanks for taking the time to post.

  61. It was truely one of the best places I’ve worked at. I am proud that I’ve worked there for 5 years. We were a family and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

  62. I worked there for 12 1/2 years. It was an awesome place to work, so many great people, just as many have stated. I will always be loyal to the Pfizer that I knew. In 2004 I caught wind that big changes were ahead for Pfizer Brooklyn,…the unfortunate end. What many have not stated is that the corporate greed filth had crept in and was just a matter of time before Brooklyn was done. I hope the Pfizer big dogs read this…like a thief in the night, they stole and ransacked what so many of us built over the years. It WAS more than a business that we helped build, it was family, friends, a good place to work….yes, it was a legacy! It would still be up and running if it weren’t for the greedy ones in charge, believe me, even on it’s worse days it was HUGELY profitable. I miss my Pfizer friends, seeing these pics(while it is a work of art)it still made me feel sad.

  63. Wow, nice pics, they brought back lots of unforgettable memories, worked there for 10 years, and proud of the experience,and great friends I met, hope everyone is doing great, good times and hands down, great company! Whats up to my PKG WHS Team!!

  64. I worked at the Brooklyn facility from79-86 before I relocated to Groton. Those were some of the best of my 30 years at Pfizer. The people made the building and hence, the product. I was always amazed at how all the people that worked there made everything come together. There was never a problem that could not be overcome. A lot of the respondents noted the “Pfizer family”. In the truest sense of the word it existed in Brooklyn. You could always count on anyone that worked in the plant to take care of one another. In 1982 I had a VW bug that was always in some sort of need. I came in on a Saturday to inspect tanker trucks early in the morning for off-loading of citric production. The car barely made it into the parking lot. One of the mechanics that serviced the Pfizer truck fleet was in, took the car into the garage, and fixed it before my shift was over….all outside the box, all on his own time. Leaving Pfizer Brooklyn and going to Groton showed me how unique Brooklyn was. I never got that sense of “Pfamily” anywhere else in Pfizer as I had there. I would like the opportunity to tour the old facility again but I fear those days are over. I believe the last time I was in the plant was back in 2001 for some meetings. It was a great place with great people.

  65. I worked there from 97-00 over at PK alley (PK21), and man do I miss that place. Great place, great people to work with… Thanks for the site man, it truly takes me back…

  66. I grew up in this neighborhood, and my parents still live there. This Pfizer plant is only a few blocks away and when I was a kid, I always said I was going to work for them. I was fasinacted with the building. You can see the Pzifer smoke stack(chimney, if you will)=, from our kitchen and living room window. But I never got to work there :-( and I was even more heart broken when I heard the plant closed. I hope they keep the structure as-is and keep it as a landmark.

  67. I was employed by Pfizer from 1990 until 2006. Having been employed by a number of other pharmaceutical companies prior to joining,I can say that for ten years it was the best company I had ever worked for. They did everything right to make employees feel that they were a part of something really great. In 1990 the company was ranked the 13th or 14th largest pharmaceutical company in the world. In less than a decade we made it number one. From that point on the company turned its back on many of us, turning over our positions to newly acquired individuals who came from recent acquisitions. Just months after having been acknowledged for 15 years of service, I was told that I was no longer needed or, more appropriately, that the company was adapting to scale and I was superfluous. I was no longer needed like so much of the equipment the company walked away from in the Brooklyn plant. How sad that a company that prided itself on caring for its Brooklyn neighbors not only turned their back on them, but on the very employees who made them what they are (or at least were), until the age of Hank McKinnel.

  68. My father had his career at Pfizer since WWII…his father got him a job starting out wtih dumping citric ….he retired after 40+ years as one of the head engineers after putting himself through night school. Even designed one of the filling machines for Pfizer used at this plant. Would love to see it remodeled and restored as a museum. Pretty special place to a LOT of folks – even us Baby Boomer Pfizer Kids – loved those Rye Playland Pfizer outings when we were little.
    Thank you so MUCH for this ‘tour’ since it’s been closed. I got to go back with my father one last time summer of 1999. Met some great folks – young engineers and some folks who still remembered my Dad! It was Pfizer’s 150th Anniversary year. If he were still alive he’d LOVE to talk about every photo here and what was done there.

  69. what a waste. i to feel like paul.e k.people put this place above their own families only to be ripped out from under them.Great people and friends were made but too bad the manner in which they stole everything from us can not be forgiven at least by me.many cowardly managers and supervisors shamed the great ones that came before them.i worked the blister area a long time.these lessons will never be forgotten.forever hurt and betrayed. PEACE!!!

  70. Thanks for the memories, but I have never seen the building in an empty state; and this was so heartwrenching to watch. I have worked the 4-12 shift in the blister area at this plant for 17yr; being ATS in 2007. My father, and two uncle all worked there for over 30 yrs. I had a wonderful learning experience, made lasting memories of being a part of the Pfizer Family. Yes, I was one of the many who cried my eyes and heart out….the end was just so overwhelming. Thanks once again.

  71. Ahhhh the memories !!! We had some great times there. My uncle was there for 33 years and me for 15.

    No matter where life takes me, the friendships I made there will last forever.

    Everyone who worked there even for the shortest time knows exactly what I mean.

    These pictures are awesome, but if the walls could talk !!!

  72. Wow, seeing all these comments from my “family” is really fantastic. The pictures are great also, but I was at the Plant until the end and I was able to see all of them “live”. I happened to be the only Pfizer-Brooklyn colleague that fell victim to the “Adapting to Change” terminations but returned after re-applying/interviewing. Because of this, I was able to remain as an active employee until the final closing day. Thankfully, I was rehired within the 2-month active-status period after termination so I never was “non-Pfizer”. I was at the Brooklyn Plant for a total of 30 years. It was the best place to work and I met many life-long friends there. I consider myself very lucky to have been a part of this wonderful organization.

  73. Just wanted to clarify one thing from my previous statement. I wasn’t the only Pfizer colleague re-hired after being terminated but I was the only one that did so and remained at the Plant until it finally shut the doors!

  74. The “sealed up rooms” make up an Air Handling Unit (thus the ‘AHU’ label on the side), used for large commercial air conditioning applications. The air passes from left to right through heating and cooling coils and then through a fan to distribute through the building’s ductwork. The airtight doors are to access the spaces in between the coils. The picture through the open door shows the rack where the filters would be installed. The Photohelic is a pressure gage used to measure the pressure drop across the filter bank. Higher pressure drop means the filters are dirty and should be replaced.

  75. Seems like a frightening place. Pfizer has a horrible record and has compromised public safety throughout the years. Do you know about Becky McClain? I dont understand how anyone can feel good about supporting the chemical industry or a company like Pfizer or Monsanto given the nightmarish direction we are headed in. It’s a sad state of affairs for the future of humanity and no one seems to care. Everyone just accepts it like a heard of cattle. Shame on us all.

    • The next time you or someone you love gets strep throat, or an ear infection, or a more serious infection, I hope you stick by your guns.

  76. My mother and grandmother worked in this building. My grandmother from 1952-79, and my mother from 1959-95. They both worked in Quality Control. My grandmother was Lurella Gilette, my mother was Diane Jobes. My mom passed away April 24 of this year. I cannot convey how muc of a family Pfizer Brooklyn was. It will be missed.

  77. I’d be thrilled to hear from anyone who knew my mom and grandmother, or any “Pfizer Babies.” betta2911@aol.com

  78. This was superb…thanks! But what you saw was only the remaining portion of the plant, which after WWII into the 70s stretched from Ellery Street north of Flushing Avenue all the way to Broadway. The now empty blocks north of Flushing Avenue were filled with immense interconnected Pfizer factory buildings, tanks, smokestacks…it was overwhelming. At night it was eerily dark, with a huge neon lit Pfizer sign hovering over it. The plant was noisy: it hummed and hissed and roared all day. It had a huge factory steam whistle which shrieked three tones: E, C and G, at 8am, noon and 5pm, six days a week. It was so loud you could hear it up in Greenpoint if the wind was right. The plant also STANK, a noxious odor you could smell for blocks, and it spewed ash and dust! We lived across the street in the 50s and I remember waking to filth all over the apartment. No wonder all those blocks to the north are empty. The grounds are probably filled with toxic waste.

  79. Do you know who the current owners are or what their contact info is?

  80. Wow Thanks for the trip down memory lane I to spent 11 years working the blister,card sealing and tablet lines…Will never forget all the friends and great memories.Pfizer was truly a great place to work with even greater people. Life was truly our lifes work in Brooklyn.couldnt believe my last day back in September of 2008 would be my last day in that plant.
    I try to explain to other people how it was in Brooklyn but they will never get it….Pfizer Brooklyn “where it all began”
    Hope all is well with everyone.

  81. Stephanie Thompson - maiden name

    I am a displaced New Yorker – a Brooklynite – living in the alien world of the SE. I will never forget how happy several friends of mine were who worked at Pfizer throughout the 90s. I imagine they worked at Pfizer until its last days if they could. I have been out of touch with them for quite some time so I am unsure.

    Their happiness at working at Pfizer was apparent at all times. I remember one of the girls broke her arm, or had a surgery, and as I was so accustomed to working for misers I wondered how it was going to effect her job security there; well, they told her she could be off as long as it took for her to heal! I was blown away. They all made good enough pay to live comfortably, buy homes, take great care of their children, and go away on vacations as often as needed. I was very happy for them and very surprised at the anomaly that Pfizer represented to me.

    I even considered trying to get work with them several times but eventually wound up in the incredibly demanding world of education; high school that is. Now that I live in the southeast – Mississippi – I still find it hard to believe that places to work like Pfizer really existed. I do know that it did though, because I saw it’s results in the effect it had on a very poor group of people whose lives were changed forever because they worked for them.

    When I heard that Pfizer in Brooklyn closed, my heart broke for all of it’s people. The tune ‘Pfizer Pfamily’ rings true and it was a privilege to take this photographic tour with you. I pray that the Pfizer wonder can be restored to my old neighborhood through its future repurposed life.

    God Bless

  82. What a great venue for any type of production. Even temporary warehouse use or an emergency refuge. Has Bloomy made any attempt to capitalize on this asset?

    I lived near the Groton ct unit, now also being ‘dismantled’ to keep the company ‘in the black’! LOL All after they spent nearly a BILLION $$ over 20 yrs on a vast local property takeover, bldg effort and modernization.

    People were given the boot, transferred like cattle and ejected like defective pills. Corporate Socialism at work? This may indicate just how money has infected the concept of ‘family’ and split apart so much of our social strengths throughout the nation.

    Great pix, perhaps you could put in some kind of basic floor plan to give an idea of the configuration.

  83. I was born and lived on gerry st. my dad worked for Pfizer for 37 years. and I still have the gold hamilton watch that they gave him when he retaired. Thants for bring back alot of wonderful memories.

  84. I worked at this site for just under 10 years (’94-’03). When I first started, there were many more buildings in the streets surrounding this main site, that were, or in process being torn down, including the huge smoke stack that had Pfizer down the side. There were also many areas inside that were left untouched, like the other entrance you have pictured. I always enjoyed hearing the stories of the good old days from the “old-timers” before they retired.

  85. William Mc Millon

    SUPERB!!! From infancy through my teen years Ive lived ablock from Pfizer. Im 75 and “back home”2blocks away. I had no idea what the true scoop was surrounding the Pfizer closing1 GOSSIP AND HEARSAY 111. Very enlightening about the Charter School acquisition!! I strongly believe that the “smoky fog” that I inhaled as a child emanating from Pfizer had positive medicinal benefits. We grew up tough as nails!(SMILE}

  86. A recent look on Google Maps from Ellery St. shows a ton of Haddad’s trucks in the lot. Looks like a pretty big production.

  87. NBC’s “The Blacklist” uses the old Pfizer facility as the FBI secret headquarters in Washington, DC. Many, many scenes are filmed there and in the surrounding neighborhood.

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