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Back in December, when the Sigmund Schwartz Gramercy Park Funeral Parlor on Second Avenue in the East Village closed, we joked that it would become a Duane Reade. Now, that prediction is coming true. A Duane Reade is going right next to the Chase branch that replaced the 2nd Avenue Deli.
Andy Schwartz, great-grandson of Sigmund Schwartz, explained the complicated decision to rent to Duane Reade. The building is owned by a large family of shareholders, most of them elderly. They talked with many interested businesses, but the odd configuration of the space, along with other factors (including those financial), meant that it would go to the fifth-largest retail chain in New York City.
Standing outside, Andy recalled places from the past: Starbucks used to be the famous Orchidia pizzeria, Max Brenner was a five-and-dime, Tasti-D-Lite was a comic book shop. Now, someday soon, we'll be saying, "That Duane Reade used to be a funeral parlor." If anyone would like to preserve a piece of this history, the original 1938 pews from the sanctuary will be for sale.—Jeremiah Moss
· Schwartz On Second [Vanishing New York]