23 February 2009

Huge Times Square Walgreens Kinda Sweet When You Think About It

At first glance, the new Walgreens at One Times Square looks like just another awful, garish big-box pharmacy. And, yes, it is that. But the store's nod to history makes it a more sentimental enterprise than is usually the case.

By moving into One Times Square (the old New York Times building), Walgreens is reclaiming old territory. The drug store chain has its first New York store in this same location in 1933, opening in the teeth of the Depression. It remained there until 1961, enjoying much of Times Square's post-War heydey. Walgreens abandoned Manhattan altogether in the 1970s.

The inner store is the usual sort of thing, except that the floor plan is exceedingly narrow, conforming to the shape of the building, and it rises up four flight, allowing for some nice views outside. If only if had an old-style soda fountain, so that Walgreens could serve up the malted milk shakes that it invented by in 1922.


Jill said...

They invented the malted milk shake? Really? That is one good item of trivia I've learned in a long time. My father in law lived in Montana and would make us drive 40 miles to a nearby (yes nearby) town that still served them, at a soda fountain place, probably built in the 1930s. It's rare to find them anywhere, no less the middle of Montana. THANK YOU.

David Freeland said...

I was reading recently (I think it was in the entertaining 1947 book, THE BIG DRAG), how many of Broadway's young stars would make the Times Square Walgreen's their hangout during the 1930s and early 1940s. Apparently there was a restaurant in the basement where performers like the young Lauren Bacall held court. It's great to know that this is the same space, and also that the old Times building is being used again. I was in there the other night, and it definitely has a funkier feel than the typical chain drugstore. Plus, it's open all night!

Paul Nahm said...

that's actually a brilliant idea - to serve up malted milk shakes in walgreen.