Brooklyn-born Dr. Anthony Fauci has become a household name this year, starting from when he was appointed as head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force in January. Fauci has been the Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease since 1984, but became a national figure with his no-nonsense scientific briefings about the state of the pandemic — ones frequently compared in contrast to President Donald Trump’s pronouncements. As such, Fauci has garnered both ardent supporters and detractors this year. Memes abound and he has his own bobblehead figure, but he has also received death threats which necessitated the addition of security detail. Another thing he has put into the national awareness is the Brooklyn accent, as Fauci is a born and raised Brooklyn native.
Fauci’s grandparents were Italian immigrants (with the exception of his Swiss-born maternal grandmother) who arrived through Ellis Island and settled on the Lower East Side and Little Italy in the 19th century. Fauci’s parents were born in New York and grew up on the Lower East Side before both sides of the family moved to Bensonhurst, a neighborhood in southwestern Brooklyn known for its Italian-American and Jewish enclaves. “Moving to Brooklyn was moving up,” he told The Financial Times in an interview this year. A print of the Brooklyn Bridge hangs next to the front door of his house in Washington D.C. — “It reminds me where I grew up,” Fauci said.
Fauci’s parents, Stephen and Eugenia Fauci, met in the eighth grade, attended New Utrecht High School in Bensonhurst together, and married at eighteen after their high school graduation. Eugenia graduated from Hunter College on the Upper East Side of New York City, and Stephen graduated from Columbia University‘s College of Pharmacy. He promptly opened up a family-run pharmacy, the Fauci Pharmacy, which was originally located in Bensonhurst.
Tasty Pastry, an Italian bakery in Dyker Heights down the street from Fauci’s apartment
Anthony Fauci was born in 1940 and lived in Bensonhurst through his early childhood. He described the area in an interview with the US World Herald as “the kind of neighborhood that on every Sunday morning, a mother walks out on her porch and calls for Anthony, about 20 kids come running yelling “What Mom?”
The Fauci family took over Coppola’s pharmacy at 8302 13th Avenue in Dyker Heights. This photograph taken sometime between 1939 and 1941, courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives.
By elementary school, Fauci and his family moved to Dyker Heights and took over a pharmacy that was previously called Coppola’s Pharmacy at 8302 13th Avenue on the corner of 13th Avenue and 83rd Street. The building was constructed in 1927 and according to an article in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Fauci’s mother and sister ran the front of store while Anthony delivered prescriptions on his bike. The family lived upstairs in the second floor apartment. “Each block in my neighborhood had the smells of rich, thick Sunday sauce and the music of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin,” he said in the interview with the US World Herald, “My very best memories as a child are of the house being full with aunts, cousins, and uncles with a table of good food.”
The circa 1940 tax photograph (shown above) from the New York City Municipal Archives from when the building was Coppola’s Pharmacy shows a brick-faced building with an arched roof cornice, glass storefront windows, and a retractable awning. “Farmacia Italiana” reads one of the signs in the window.
The Fauci family pharmacy and apartment, located on 13th Avenue and 83rd Street in Brooklyn, New York. Photo courtesy The Academy of Achievement.
A photograph of the same building above when it was the Fauci Pharmacy shows the name change on the sign — Fauci was written in a stylish script although the PHARMACY lettering from before was retained — and the storefront windows have been replaced. Gone are the words in the windows advertising what was sold, like “hospital supplies” and “camera films.”
Today, the same building has a very different look compared to when Fauci grew up there, as do many of the buildings on the same block. Many alterations have taken place at 8302 13th Avenue over the last three decades. By the 1980s, the brick facade still remained but the door had been moved to the left side and windows on the ground floor narrowed. In 1989, a complaint was filed with the Department of Buildings that alterations were taking place without a permit — perhaps when the building first started being covered in stucco. The arched shaped roof cornice remained until a few years ago, however.
In the 2010s, the building was occupied by the Dynamic Dance Company. Then in March 2018, an alteration permit was approved for the building which included modification of exterior and interior, including “enlargement of masonry openings, removal and installation of windows, modification of interior finishes, fixtures, ceilings, floors and plumbing fixtures as shown on submitted plans.” The ground floor windows were combined, the roof cornice straightened and rebuilt, and a new middle band exterior cornice between the first and second floors was added that mimics the new roof shape. The stucco went from a beige to a gray and it is now the offices of Visci & Associates, a law practice.
Siroco’s Catering in Dyker Heights, formerly Siroco’s Restaurant where Anthony Fauci liked to get his pizza
Fauci also left his mark on locations nearby his apartment and the family’s pharmacy. Two blocks away from the family pharmacy was Fauci’s favorite pizza, Siroco’s Restaurant, which he has called “probably the best pizza I ever had.” Siroco’s has since become a catering hall. He attended Our Lady of Guadalupe Grammar School, a Catholic parochial school in Bensonhurst for elementary school (it closed in 2019).
Shrine of St. Bernadette church and grounds
Fauci was an avid athlete, playing basketball at Dyker Park and at the Athletic Association of the Shrine of St. Bernadette, a church located diagonally across from the Fauci Pharmacy that the family attended. He went on to play basketball at his Jesuit high school, Regis High School, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. In an interview on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) website, Fauci said of his childhood, “My major interest was sports. I lived in a very sports-oriented neighborhood. We used to play basketball from the beginning of the basketball season to the end, baseball throughout the spring and the summer, and then basketball and football again in the winter.” His sports heroes were Joe Di Maggio, Mickey Mantle, and Duke Snyder, and because he was a Yankees fan, he was a “sports outcast” among his friends who were all fans of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Anthony S. Fauci (circled), as captain of the basketball team at the prestigious Jesuit school, Regis High School, circa 1958. Photo courtesy The Academy of Achievement.
After graduating high school, Fauci went to college at Holy Cross in Massachusetts and received his M.D. from Cornell Medical School on the Upper East Side, where he graduated first in his class. He did his medical internship and residency in Internal Medicine at Cornell in New York City and did his fellowship at NIH. He came back to New York City for a year as chief resident at Cornell, and returned to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease where he has been since.
But his heart, it seems, remains in Brooklyn. His parents and grandparents are buried in the family plot at Green-Wood Cemetery. In an interview with Ryan Zimmerman from the Washington Nationals, Fauci joked about Brad Pitt’s portrayal of him on Saturday Night Live: “He got my gravely voice from speaking too much — this isn’t my normal voice — he got my hand motions right, but he’s gotta work on his Brooklyn accent a little bit better, I think.”
Next, check out the Brooklyn home Ruth Bader Ginsburg grew up in and what Dyker Heights is known for, elaborate Christmas decorations (and Halloween decorations).