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Making Antibiotics in Brooklyn

By Sady Sullivan

Posted on October 7, 2009

Founded in Brooklyn in 1849, Pfizer is now one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies and maker of drugs such as Benadryl, Depo-Provera, Glucotrol, Lipitor, Viagra, Xanax, and Zoloft, to name just a few.

BHS interviewed over 20 past and current employees of Pfizer Brooklyn on the occasion of the closing of this historic manufacturing plant.

On June 12, 2008, Pfizer’s Brooklyn plant on Flushing Avenue was designated a National Historic Chemical Landmark by the New York Section of the American Chemical Society for its breakthrough developments in Deep-Tank Fermentation that made the mass production of penicillin possible.

A traveling exhibit Pfizer Heritage: Brooklyn and Beyond premiered at the Brooklyn Pfizer plant and featured clips from BHS’s Pfizer Brooklyn Oral History Project.

Former plant manager Owen Brooks talks about making life-saving antibiotics. [audio: /uploads/11-track-11.mp3]

Milton Finkelstein talks about Terramycin, an antibiotic that saved countless lives during the Vietnam War and beyond. [audio: /uploads/23-track-23.mp3]

Lisa McClancy and her mother Mary Ann Esmont talk about the Pfizer family. [audio: /uploads/02-track-02.mp3]

Eddie Anderson talks about the Industrial League Softball games. [audio: /uploads/21-track-21.mp3]

Roslyn Sheer talks about the Smell. [audio: /uploads/25-track-25.mp3]

Mike Palisoc talks about secret parties at the warehouse in Cobble Hill in the 1980s. [audio: /uploads/04-track-04.mp3]

These and more interviews from the Pfizer Brooklyn Oral History Project will soon be available for listening in the Othmer Library.

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