Sep 30, 2009

Whelan's Drugs

This morning's paper has a business article about Walgreens' decision to reinstate sales of liquor in its drug stores. That got me thinking again about the now-defunct Whelan's Drug Store chain. (Dot first met Herb just outside the Whelan's on the corner of 63rd & Halsted St.).

A couple of years ago, I wasn't able to find much information at all about Whelan's, which once was a thriving company, along the same lines as Walgreens, Rite Aid and CVS are today. But today a search led me to the photo above and the text below, from the Museum of the City of New York. Altho the photograph is from 1936, it's my guess that this store didn't look all that much different from the one in Chicago in June of 1945, when Herb and Dot were meeting each other just outside on the sidewalk.

Eighth Avenue and West 44th Street
This photograph, originally titled Modern Drug Store, depicts a new type of commercial enterprise. Replacing independent pharmacies that specialized in medicines, chain stores like Whelan's offered a wide array of low-priced toiletries, appliances, toys, candies, cigarettes, and, almost incidentally, drugs. 
In 1939, there were some 200 Whelan's stores in the country, half of which were in the metropolitan New York area. The trend was still new, however, with chain stores constituting less than 10 percent of the nation's pharmacy business.
This Whelan's was advantageously located in the heart of the theater district across the street from the new Lincoln Hotel.
Whelan's pioneered the chain store approach to selling pharmaceuticals, but it no longer exists.


  1. Anonymous11:04 AM CDT

    I like what you are doing with this blog. You've got a purpose and it is a good one. Hope I can do as well.


  2. Thank you, Lindsay!

  3. Ninotchka Hightower7:23 PM CDT

    I enjoyed reading about your mother's life and reading and seeing the stores in the Englewood neighborhood. I would like to purchase (Dorothy's Diaries) Where can I Get them from?.

  4. Ninotchka Hightower8:12 AM CDT

    I've spent exactly 2 hrs trying to subscribe, the process takes to long. I really enjoy reading please reply : thanks Ninotchka Hightower.