How To Erase A 75-Year-Old Drug Store From Existence

Got some bad news. Last year I wrote about Mishkin’s, a classic New York City drug store at 145th Street and Amsterdam.

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Not only does Mishkin’s have one the all-time greatest neon signs in the city…

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Stepping inside was literally like taking a trip to the 1940s…

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…with wood-paneled walls and shelves…

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…ancient drawers behind the counter…

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…ladders to get to the highest shelves…

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…a tin ceiling…

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…and a beautiful tile floor:

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There were even a pair of old phone booths at the front:

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Er, not anymore:

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The whole thing has been completely gutted:

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Well, not completely gutted…

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They haven’t gotten around to ripping out the last bit of tiling:

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It never ceases to amaze me how someone would go and destroy something so unique and historic, and then replace it with the most generic and boring version imaginable. I asked someone working at the counter about the changes, but she just shrugged and said “It’s the 21st century.”

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But most depressing of all? The neon sign hasn’t been lit up in some time.

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I asked if they were going to bother turning it on, but no one seemed to know.

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This store had something once that made it incredibly special, something that money couldn’t buy. Now, there’s not a single thing that differentiates it from the hundreds of similar drug stores throughout the city. I guess that is the 21st century.

You can read the original post here.

-SCOUT

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21 comments

  1. The longer you live here, the more NYC breaks your heart. Change for the sake of change with nary a nod to the past. You either accept it or move. I moved out a few years ago with very few regrets. You probably will do the same one day soon, unfortunately, so don’t get too attached to old pharmacies and neon signs or your heart will break even more.

  2. Wow, that’s a sad loss. New York is a little darker without their fantastic sign. With this, Smiths, and Harold’s, that’s a lot of great neon lost in the last few months.

  3. While sad that such a cool relic was completely gutted. The new owners should’ve taken advantage of the vintage pieces.

    But…. I will say, I’m guessing the people living above the pharmacy aren’t going to miss the orange-red neon lights blaring in their windows. 😉

    Side note: You should totally offer to buy the sign and put it somewhere it will be appreciated.

  4. Such a crap answer, “its the 21st century”. That saying is just boring & generic as that new drug store.

  5. I realize that old architecture and furnishings can sometimes be too difficult or costly to maintain. What baffles me is when they spend money deliberately destroying these beautiful reminders of our past and heritage, only to replace them with dull, generic tat.

    Do you have a delightful tiled floor that merely needs a good clean? Ah, rip it up and throw laminate flooring down.
    What about that tin ceiling that’s added character to the building for 75 years or more? Meh, let’s hire contractors to tear it down and replace it with the same shitty paneling everybody looks at in their office all day long.

    These re-developers are worse than vivisectionists, P.E. teachers or child-molesters. That’s not even hyperbole.

    • “These re-developers are worse than vivisectionists, P.E. teachers or child-molesters. That’s not even hyperbole.” I love this quote so much.

      One of the best things about NYC has always been the small businesses. I just don’t understand why too few people can see that.

      I moved back to my hometown of Cleveland, and I love that we still have lots of great small businesses in the city. When I first got back I kept photographing store signs since there were so many great ones.

  6. I was fortunate enough to go inside there and took a photo at the phone booths. They did offer to sell it to me. Where would I put something like that? I declined, and decided to pay rent instead.

    The reality is the owners would be glad to sell these antiques, but who is willing to pay to save them?

    Thanks for the article, glad I got to see the original. The new one looks like crap. :-\

    • I have a hard time believing that there wasn’t a single vintage or architectural salvage business in town that didn’t want elements of that store. Set designers, collectors, restaurants or retail businesses looking for interesting decorative elements — there are buyers out there.

  7. Ugh, so sad!! Sometimes people just don’t G-A-S, especially when repairing or refinishing the old features is more costly than ripping out and replacing with generic, new stuff. At least you were able to capture the pharmacy before the changes were made, preserving at least the memory of what once was.

  8. The person on the counter wouldn’t know so don’t blame them. Have the owners changed? Has someone died?
    Were they told to change something by the city?

  9. The old store was beautiful and historic. I can see why you liked it. I can also see how the old furnishings could be intimidating to the average consumer who is just looking for some Advil and Aspirin. The character is really nice to admire, but being unfamiliar to your target customer base can be a bad business decision.

    That all said, I wish they had incorporated some of the old character into the new. Fixing up the floor would have been a great choice and kept some of the old character.

  10. There was another really cool, old pharmacy on the UES that was shuttered, sold, and had something else pop up in it’s place. It was the J Leon Lascoff & Son pharmacy and was located on 82nd and Lex. I remember walking past and noticing a striking interior. Forgotten NY wrote up something and have a few pics from some years ago. http://forgotten-ny.com/2008/02/lascoffs-leeching-on-lex-since-1899/

    It recently has been been converted into a Warby Parker. While they also gutted it and changed it all, at least they kept the 2nd floor around. https://www.google.com/maps/@40.7767446,-73.9573317,3a,75y,239.87h,93.21t/data=!3m5!1e1!3m3!1sJ4MDsf1RiYMAAAGuwk9TtQ!2e0!3e2!6m1!1e1

  11. That is very sad. To make it worse, the renovations are not that nice! They didn’t gut it to make a fancy new drug store. If you are going to ruin something good at least go the full distance!

  12. Scout I think you might be wrong on this- take a close look at the floor and at the ceiling.

    You can see in the picture the transition from the wood to the tiles that it’s sitting on top of the old tile floor, so rip out the wood and the tiling is still there. And they went with cheap wood flooring, if they saved a few bucks getting the low quality stuff I highly doubt they paid money to rip up the tiling. It’s definitely there…

    As for the ceiling, it looks like a typical drop-down ceiling. Underneath it the tin ceiling survived but probably has a few screw holes in it from the supports for the tiles and the ventilation.

    This is probably just like the old restaurant in Brooklyn, they covered it up but it’s still there and won’t take that long to bring to light again.

  13. I don’t knoiw if it is still there, but there was also once upon a time a MISHKIN’S DRUGS in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I was born and raised in Greenpoint until my family moved in the mid 70’s and Mishkins was still there at that time. I believe it was on Manhattan Avenue.

  14. This was one of my favorite articles of yours. The pictures break my heart.

  15. So very sad….I hope the old woodwork and moldings were salvaged by someone…

  16. I noticed the old store before and thought it was wonderful, and took several photos of the outside. They actually repainted the exterior signs at one point and I did not like how they slightly changed it. However, at the time, maybe 10 years ago, I remember thinking there was no way in hell I was going to buy anything there. The interior was dilapidated. I would not even trust buying a tube of toothpaste there. They made the right business decision to modernize.

  17. So far, the 21st Century pretty well sucks donkey dick!

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  19. The Asian family sold it– the new owners are responsible for the damage. That’s what happened.

    It was so great inside too — real teens and 1920s, where you had to ask for what you wanted and they pulled it out of a drawer. They had everything, too, and in every odd size you could imagine.

    One good thing about the change is that their business immediately dropped after the changeover. People all over were unhappy about it. It was a very dumb move, and also quite neglectful on the part of the city’s heritage commission not to register the interior.

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