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New York College of Pharmacy

New York, New York



There are two full-length histories of the college.  A History of the College of Pharmacy, Columbia University (1954) by Dean Charles W. Ballard extends the earlier The College of Pharmacy of the City of New York (1929) by Professor Curt P. Wimmer.  Many of the school yearbooks and catalogs are available through either Internet Archive or HathiTrust.  The pre-1904 seal (right) is from Wimmer's history.

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The New York College of Pharmacy, both a regulatory and teaching institution, was founded on March 18, 1829 as an attempt to improve conditions in the drug business.  Almost any business might dispense drugs; many pharmacists assumed the role of physicians in prescribing drugs; and many apothecaries imported or made their own drugs.  Also at that time, there was only one teaching college of pharmacy in the United States.  The initial proposal for the college involved lectures in chemistry and materia medica.  Lectures were held three evenings each week for 13 weeks—increased to 24 weeks by 1886.   Lectures in analytic chemistry, pharmacy, and botany were later added.  Any person applying to sit the pharmacist examination would need to attend two years of these lectures and have four years of apprenticeship with an established pharmacist.


The first graduation in 1831 saw three students receiving diplomas.  Dean Ballard reported an attendance of 191 in 1874, with 38 graduates.  The 1924 yearbook shows 258 graduates.  The 1976 yearbook, the school’s last, shows 90 graduates from the four-year program. 


In 1904 the school became the college of pharmacy for Columbia University, giving the university a professional school and giving the pharmacy higher entrance requirements as well as liberal arts instruction.  Because of the association with Columbia, the School of Pharmacy was ahead of the state organization in offering a three-year program (1927) and a four-year program (1932).


After the merger with Columbia University, students began to look for more from their college experience.  The 1924 yearbook shows that students had four fraternities and one sorority and two other social/professional societies.  It also shows a Senior Dance, a Faculty Dance and a Junior Night of entertainment.  


By 1967 the school began to have accreditation problems because of increased debt and aging facilities.  It closed in 1976.

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Bricks and Mortar

Initial lectures were held at the College of Physicians and Surgeons on Barclay Street.  For the next 49 years they were held wherever rooms could be founds.  Finally, in 1878 the college was able to purchase the Calvary Chapel at 209-211 23rd Street.  The ground floor auditorium was renovated as a lecture hall with desk chairs replacing the pews.  A library, a museum and laboratories were added to the second floor.  But as enrollment and essential classes increased, the school purchased three plots on West 68th Street to construct a building to meet present and future needs.


The six-story structure featured a library on the ground floor; an amphitheater seating 350 occupied the second and third floors.  The upper floors contained the laboratories, each of which could handle 100 students.


That building has since been razed.

(Left) The 68th Street building, home to the College of Pharmacy for more than 80 years.  Image from Wimmer's history.


            School Colors:  Blue and White

            Team Name: Blue and White, Pharmacists, Apothecaries


A sports program for College of Pharmacy had to overcome several obstacles.  Early on, all classes were in the evening for students who worked as apprentice pharmacists during the day. The school provided no financial support and had no practice facilities.  


Students from the college formed a football team in 1899, losing 5-0 and 25-5 to City College of New York.  Newspapers show that between 1904 and 1907, College of Pharmacy football teams played Perth Amboy (NJ) High School each year.


In 1910 a baseball team from the school played against the Philadelphia School of Pharmacy, losing 7-3. 


Basketball became the key sport of the school after 1922.  In the 1920’s C.U.C.P. helped organize the Intercollegiate Pharmacy League consisting of the colleges of pharmacy at Rutgers, Philadelphia, Brooklyn and New York.  In addition, C.U.C.P. played similar professional schools of law, optometry, and engineering in the Metropolitan area.  The onset of World War II brought intercollegiate sports to a close.  Basketball was renewed for a time after the war.

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1928-29 Basketball Team.  The uniforms acknowledge that the school is now Columbia University College of Pharmacy.  Image, downloaded from HathiTrust, is credited to Creative Commons.  

Note: Images are used in accordance with their “terms of use” as I understand those terms.  Recopying or republishing these images may be restricted or forbidden.

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