December 19, 2012 by Amy Elliott Bragg
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.