25 March 2009

More to Love on Lex

Carrying on with my treatise that Lexington Avenue—the part of it that lies in the Upper East Side—is (for whatever reason) very adept at preserving its old businesses, I explored the stretch of it between 86th and 72nd Streets, the other day.

Unlike the part of Lex between 72nd and 59th, which contains many a wonderful, but unsung treasure, this portion of the Avenue boasts a number of well-known and much-beloved shops. The 84-year-old Lexington Candy Shop, which serves egg creams and real malteds, perhaps tops the list of this category. Little ever changes in this misguidingly named diner, located at 83rd Street, except perhaps additions to the peculiar vintage coke bottle collection in the window.

Lascoff Drugs, at 82nd Street, is a pharmacy so majestic and solemn, you feel like your entering a church when you go in. High ceilings, high shelving, a balcony, ancient Pharmacuetical relics, and silence. No music. You'll find many old and classic brands here that you won't locate elsewhere. It's been here since 1899. If that sign ever falls down, it'll kill someone.

The Lenox Hill Grill, between 77th and 78th Streets, is all spanking new inside, but the sign and an old floor tile near the entrance betrays it at fully 50 years old.

Eisler Chemist at 79th Street dates from the days when this area was crawling with German-Americans, though, again, only the sign and the name hint at its oldness. Further down the Avenue, between 75th and 76th Streets, the L&H Pharmacy was founded in 1964.

William Poll, at 75th Street, is a bit of oddness that I hadn't known existed before last week: an 88-year-old, somewhat mangy-looking, specialty food store that feels vaguely English, and specializes in Baked Potato Thins and homemade dips to go with them. Dozens of dips. The facade stretches out over the sidewalk as a circular metal structure, a king of unofficial private bus shelter. Weird.

Paul Mole, at 74th Street, is a sprawling, second-floor barber that's been in business for 100 years. They sell their own line of hair and shaving products. And there are barber poles of all sizes, upstairs and down.


Ken Mac said...

I think the luncheonette was featured in Three Days of the Condor with Robert Redford, the part where he runs to get lunch while his crew is being gunned down by the CIA!

Anonymous said...

I've mentioned this on "that other blog", but it was also in MANHATTAN. It is the place where Mariel Hemingway looks so beautiful and sad while slipping an ice cream soda. Or a shake. Or a malt.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Yes, they have a framed photo of "Three Days" on the wall. No shot of "Manhattan," though, that I could see, Carol, though I'm sure you're right. I recall that scene.

Upstate Johnny Gee said...

After reading this item and checking out these places I took my girlfriend to the luncheonette for...lunch. We sat at the counter, tended by countermen wearing traditional white coats. I watched in amazement as the man prepared (not poured) my Coke the old fashioned way: 6 squirts of syrup in the glass, then fill with carbonated water from the soda fountain and stir with a spoon. I had forgotten how different Coke tastes when prepared this way: very mild carbonation compared with Coke from a bottle/can/or a gun, and a much stronger "Coke" flavor not just sweetness. This brought back some great memories of sitting at the counter at the old Woolworth's store and other drugstores and enjoying a Coke on a hot summer day.