UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — After a two-year vacation a few storefronts away in the same landmarked building, Goldberger’s Pharmacy — known for their iconic neon signs — has returned home.
“We opened in 1898,” said pharmacy manager Antonios Sadrak, “but we’ve been in this spot since maybe the 1960’s.”
And even though their temporary home was just a few storefronts down, customers peppered Sadrak and others with the same question over and over again.
“‘When are you moving back? Why is it taking so long?'” Sadrak said. “That was the main question. It was a two-year-long question.”
The pharmacy picked up and moved in 2021 as the building was going through a landmark facade restoration. Since the work was going to take some time, and the old-school pharmacy was able to relocate on the same block, they decided to renovate the interior as well.
While that meant the storefronts were returned to their original, circa 1900 condition — with restored metal entablatures and cornices, according to the Landmarks and Preservation Committee work permit — the pharmacy’s iconic neon signs had to come down because of landmark regulations.
Sadrak said that most of the neon signs were too broken beyond repair anyways, but the main sign from the 1960s bearing the Goldberger name got the golden treatment.
“Most of it is the original neon,” Sadrak said. “We had it rebuilt and ended up keeping it inside.”
Now, a smaller neon sign sits at the window, with the original, gigantic sign sitting behind the counter.
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The building that houses Goldberger’s — and hundreds of tenants — was landmarked in 1990. Called the City And Suburban Homes Company, First Avenue Estate, the entire block between First and York avenues, and East 64th and 65th streets, was one of the city’s earliest — and most successful — social housing projects built at the turn of the century.
With a limited equity model, the company’s investors, which included prominent New Yorkers like Mrs. Henry Codman Potter, Caroline and Olivia Stokes, Cornelius Vanderbilt and Darius Ogden Mills, all agreed to limit their profits “in order to provide wage earners with comfortable, safe, hygienic, well-maintained housing at market rates,” according to the LPC.
“The company attempted to establish what its president E.R.L. Gould described as a ‘middle ground between pure philanthropy and pure business’ and encourage others to invest in housing of an equally high caliber,” the landmark designation reads.
The estates were praised for their innovative and modern designs, as well as the variety of their apartment layouts.
A 1940’s tax lot image from the city’s municipal archives shows the building from First Avenue and East 64th Street.
As far as Goldberger’s Pharmacy’s future is concerned, Sadrak says there aren’t a lot of changes planned, but they are considering meeting some neighborhood’s needs by exploring new idea, like an urgent care-adjacent model for the pharmacy and moving into stocking more surgical supplies.
But that’s down the road. For now, Sadrak says that he and his customers are just excited that Goldberger’s is back home.
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