Drunk history is tonight, Thurs. Dec. 20, at 1701 Cigar Bar

What do the following things have in common?

John J. Bagley (Michigan’s beardo governor, 1873-1877) …

[Detail from this beautiful photograph, ca. 1890]

The ladies at work in this shop window (!) …

[via Virtual Motor City, 1930s]

The ladies on strike in this factory …

[Fort St. and W. Grand Blvd., 1881. Source.]

This haunted factory


These naughty newsboys?

I bet you guessed cigars! You guessed right.

Tobacco was once big business in Detroit — for a brief time, in the 1890s, it was the city’s leading industry. Its presence made magnates of some (like Gov. John J. Bagley, above, whose corner shop became the behemoth Mayflower Tobacco Co.), gave good-paying jobs to others (in the 1920s, Detroit’s cigar manufacturers mostly employed women, many of them immigrants), and left a legacy of factory-lofts for today’s hip Detroiters. Thanks, tobacco companies!

Tonight, join the Detroit Drunken Historical Society at 1701 Cigar Bar in Cadillac Square. We’ll have a drink and a talk, take a walking tour of nearby sites from Detroit’s tobacco history, then stop for a nightcap at Habana.

More info on Facebook and Meetup. Smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em. (Or get ’em at the cigar bar.)

#banner tobacco company#detroit cigar history#detroit drunken historical society#newsboy cigars#tobacco history detroit


  1. Todd Scott - December 20, 2012 @ 9:04 am

    Great pictures, Amy. I wanted to share this related story I wrote last year. Detroit’s (and America’s) bicycling craze of the 1890s really hurt cigar production. From the Freep: “If it is true, as the United State Tobacco Journal says, that the bicycle craze has emancipated half a million slaves of the smoking habit, that fact will go very far to strengthen the public belief that the bicycle is an excellent thing. The estimate of the Journal is that because the wheelmen cannot smoke while wheeling, half a million of them have reduced their consumption of at least two cigars a day… These figures correspond with the actual decrease in the cigar production which it says has amounted to 700,000,000 cigars annually since the bicycle craze set in.”

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