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.

  • 1992
    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
    Walgreens.com, a comprehensive online pharmacy, was launched offering customers a convenient and secure way to take care of many pharmaceutical and healthcare needs online. In addition, the site provides Mayo Clinic Health Information, a trusted source in health and wellness information. Charles Walgreen III retired. L. Daniel Jorndt is named chairman.

  • 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. L. Daniel Jorndt retired and David Bernauer was named chairman.

  • 2005
    Walgreens opened its 5,000th store in Richmond, Va., in October.

  • 2006
    In July, president Jeffrey A. Rein was named CEO while former CEO and chairman David W. Bernauer continued as chairman. Also in July, Walgreens acquired Happy Harrys drugstore chain, adding 76 stores, primarily in Delaware. In the fall, Walgreens began offering in-store health clinics, called Health Corner Clinics, 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 and with the acquisition, it expects to have more than 400 clinics by the end of 2008. Also in 2007, chairman David W. Bernauer retired and Jeffrey A. Rein became chairman and CEO. Gregory D. Wasson was named president and COO. 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. Jeff Rein retires as CEO, and Alan McNally is named the company's chairman of the board and acting CEO.

  • 2009
    Greg Wasson is appointed as CEO of the company. 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 Take Care 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 President and CEO Greg Wasson joined First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House to announce Walgreens commitment to convert or open at least 1,000 food oasis stores across the country over the next five years, helping to serve people in communities that currently lack access to healthy and affordable foods including fruits and vegetables. Walgreens completed its acquisition of online retailer drugstore.com. 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. Walgreens announced plans to offer electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at about 800 locations across the country. 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.