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Walgreens Historical Highlights

  • 1901

    Charles R. Walgreen Sr. purchased the Chicago drugstore where he had worked as a pharmacist - and that started the Walgreen chain. His energy and enthusiasm soon led to new ideas and ambitious expansion. For example, he manufactured his own line of drug products to ensure high quality and low prices.

    1901 historical image
  • 1909

    The second Walgreen store opened.

  • 1916

    Nine stores incorporated as Walgreen Co.

  • 1922

    Walgreens invented the malted milkshake. Customers stood three and four deep around the soda fountain to buy the "double-rich chocolate malted milk."

    1922 historical image
  • 1926

    The 100th store opened in Chicago.

  • 1927

    Walgreen Co. stock went public.

  • 1933

    Walgreens helped celebrate Chicago's World Fair. The company opened four stores on the Century of Progress fairgrounds. These stores experimented with advanced fixture design, new lighting techniques and colors - ideas that helped modernize drugstore layout and design.

  • 1939

    Charles Walgreen Sr. died and Charles Walgreen Jr. became the company's president.

    1939 historical image
  • 1943

    The company opened a nonprofit 6,000-foot drugstore in the Pentagon. All the profits from the store went to the Pentagon Post Restaurant Council, which supervised food service in the complex. The store operated into the 1980s.

  • 1946

    Walgreens acquired its first foreign property when the company bought the Mexican retailer Sanborn's. In 1984, the company sold Sanborn's.

  • 1950

    Walgreens began to build self-service instead of clerk service stores in the Midwest. By 1953, Walgreens was the largest self-service retailer in the country.

    1950 historical image
  • 1960

    Walgreens entered the Puerto Rico market.

    Walgreens filled its 100 millionth prescription, far more than any drug chain at that time.

  • 1968

    Walgreens became the first major drug chain to put its prescriptions into child-resistant containers, long before it was required by law.

  • 1969

    Charles Walgreen III became the company's president.

  • 1975

    Walgreens reached $1 billion in sales.

  • 1981

    The first Intercom computers were installed in five Walgreen pharmacies in Des Moines, Iowa. This was the initial step toward making Walgreens the first drugstore chain to connect all its pharmacy departments via satellite.

  • 1982

    Next-day photofinishing became available chainwide.

  • 1984

    Walgreens opened its 1,000th store, at 1200 N. Dearborn in Chicago.

    1984 historical image
  • 1991

    In November, the chain completed installation of point-of-sale scanning to speed checkouts.

    Walgreens opened its first drugstore with a drive-thru pharmacy.

  • 1994

    The 2,000th store opened in Cleveland.

  • 1997

    Intercom Plus, Walgreens advanced computer system, completed rollout to all stores. Intercom Plus speeds the prescription-filling process, permits better patient counseling and is the leading pharmacy system in the industry.

  • 1999 launched a comprehensive online pharmacy, offering customers a convenient and secure way to take care of many pharmaceutical and healthcare needs online. Charles Walgreen III retired as chairman of the company.

  • 2000

    Walgreens reached the 3,000-store mark when its location at Halsted and Monroe in Chicago opened.

  • 2001

    Walgreens celebrated its centennial in June and rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

  • 2002

    Walgreens became the first drugstore chain to offer prescription labels in multiple languages chainwide. Today, labels can be printed in one of 14 languages _ Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese and English.

  • 2003

    Walgreens reached the 4,000-store mark when its location at Coldwater Canyon Avenue and Magnolia Boulevard in Van Nuys, Calif., opened in March.

  • 2005

    Walgreens opened its 5,000th store in Richmond, Va., in October.

  • 2006

    In July, Walgreens acquired Happy Harry's drugstore chain, adding 76 stores, primarily in Delaware. In the fall, Walgreens began offering in-store health clinics, today called Healthcare Clinic, with nurse practitioners treating walk-in patients for common ailments. During 2006, clinics opened in St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago and Atlanta.

  • 2007

    Walgreens acquired Take Care Health Systems. In the summer of 2007, Walgreens acquired Option Care, a network of more than 100 pharmacies (including more than 60 company-owned) in 34 states, providing a full spectrum of specialty pharmacy and home infusion services. In the fall of 2007, Walgreens opened its first store in Hawaii in Honolulu and celebrated the opening of its 6,000th store in New Orleans.

  • 2008

    Walgreens completed its acquisitions of worksite health care providers I-trax/CHD Meridian Healthcare and Whole Health Management.

  • 2009

    Walgreens opened its first store in Alaska, marking its presence in all 50 states. The company celebrated the opening of its 7,000th store nationwide with a grand opening in Brooklyn, N.Y. Walgreens offered H1N1 vaccinations at all of its pharmacies and clinics nationwide to fight the flu pandemic.

  • 2010

    Charles R. Walgreen III retired from the company's board of directors after 46 years of service. Walgreens completed its acquisition of the Duane Reade drugstore chain in New York. Walgreens opened its first Well Experience format stores in Oak Park and Wheeling, IL.

  • 2011

    Walgreens completed its acquisition of online retailer Walgreens introduced Web Pickup service in the Chicago area, combining the convenience of online shopping with its neighborhood stores. Duane Reade opened its flagship store at 40 Wall Street in Manhattan, NY. The company marked its continued commitment to sustainability with its 100th rooftop solar power system installation at a store in Mason, Ohio.

  • 2012

    Walgreens debuted its Chicago flagship store, returning to the iconic shopping corner of State and Randolph in Chicago's Loop where it operated a store from 1926 to 2005. Walgreens completed its acquisition of Bioscrip's community specialty pharmacies and centralized specialty and mail service pharmacy businesses. Walgreens launched a new online "Find Your Pharmacist" tool that allows customers to select a pharmacist by matching their health care needs with the areas of expertise, specialties, languages and clinical backgrounds of Walgreens pharmacists. Walgreens and Alliance Boots announced they have entered into a strategic transaction to create the first global pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing enterprise.

    Also, Walgreens opened its 8,000th store in Los Angeles.

  • 2013

    On November 21, Walgreens opened what is believed to be the nation's first net zero energy store, anticipated to produce energy equal to or greater than it consumes, in Evanston, Illinois. The store sports two wind turbines, nearly 850 solar panels and a geothermal system burrowed 550 feet into the ground.

  • 2014

    On December 31, Walgreens took its products and services to the four corners of the world with the completion of its merger with Alliance Boots, a leading international pharmacy-led health and beauty group. With the completion of the merger comes the formation of a new global company, Walgreens Boots Alliance, combining two leading companies with iconic brands, complementary geographic footprints, shared values and a heritage of trusted health care services through pharmaceutical wholesaling and community pharmacy care, dating back more than 100 years each.