Edward Hopper’s Drug Store

We’ll be the first to admit it: We have Edward Hopper fever. Those who were present at our recent lecture on the artist’s work know the extent of the research we have put into locating the subjects of Nighthawks at the Diner and Early Sunday Morning, two of Hopper’s most iconic Village paintings. But these are far from the only Hopper works that portray life in the neighborhood that the artist called home. Greenwich Village was a great muse of Hopper’s and is portrayed in a great number of his masterpieces, including his 1927 painting Drug Store.

Edwards Hopper's Drug Store, 1927

After the lecture I was approached by Bob Egan, a friend of GVSHP, who thought he might hold some clues as to the whereabouts of the storefront portrayed in this painting.

Bob speculates that Drug Store may have been based on the building at 184 Waverly Place (aka 154 West 10th Street). The building is currently home to the bookstore Three Lives & Company, which GVSHP honored with a Village Award in 1991. Not only does the address (No. 184) match the numbers shown in the painting, but the cast-iron corner column also survives to this day.

184 Waverly Place today

Two more views:

184 Waverly Place today, courtesy of Google

At Bob’s request we did a little research into this building, which we found was constructed prior to 1828 (note the paneled Federal style lintels and Flemish Bond brickwork). The storefront is clearly a Victorian-era addition that was altered in the early to mid-20th century. The ca. 1940 tax photo (a very poor photocopy of which is below), indicates that a delicatessen was present in the building at that time. But this would have been 13 years after Hopper finished the painting.

ca. 1940 tax photo, courtesy NYC Department of Records

Now, for a few reasons we’re hesitant to say with absolute certainly that Hopper based Drug Store on 184 Waverly Place. For one, the storefront in the painting is of a very typical late 19th-century style, and there were likely many similar storefronts existing in Greenwich Village in 1927 that have since been demolished. And certain elements of 184 Waverly Place – such as the doorway to the left of the storefront and the number of window bays on the second floor – do not match those in the painting. Then again, our research on Nighthawks at the Diner and Early Sunday Morning shows that Hopper was known to alter his subjects, sometimes a great deal, using elements from a number of different scenes in and around the Village.

That said, this does make us wonder. Could Drug Store have been based on 184 Waverly Place?

Hopper experts: Leave us your thoughts!


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avatar Elizabeth Finkelstein is GVSHP's Director of Preservation & Research.