Big Tobacco in the Big Apple

How New York City Became the Heart of the Tobacco Industry
…and Anti Smoking Activism

The First 200 Years


The Deep Roots of the Tobacco Industry in New York City (6:25)

Lorillard ad 1789 Lorillard and Tobacco book

Tobacco & Snuff of the (best) quality & flavor

Peter and George Lorillard
May 27, 1789

Harpers Weekly 1855 Rising Generation cartoon  Excerpt

Rising Generation

Harper’s Weekly

Harpers Weekly 1860 A Pipe of Tobacco  Excerpt

A Pipe of Tobacco

Duke, Sons Co.
The Sun
May 17, 1886

New York Sun 1888 Sweet Caporal ad  page

The Standard of the World…

Detail of Advertisement Sweet Caporal Cigarettes
The New York Sun

New York Sun 1888 Sweet Caporal ad  detail

We made and sold … 823 Million Cigarettes

W. Duke, Son & Co.
The World

D Buchner Tobacco Card  Combined


Tobacco Package Card
“Finest” or “Bravest” Chewing and Smoking Tobacco
D. Buchner & Co. New York

1905 united cigars stores all over

Isle of Pines Rothschild Size

United Cigar Stores Company

Flatiron Bldg Post card 1906 United Cigar sign

The Flatiron Building

United Cigar Stores Company

Vintage Advertisements and Illustrations from New York City’s Tobacco History

Harpers Weekly 1854 In a Tobacco Factory  Excerpt

In a Tobacco Factory

Harper’s New Monthly Magazine

Harpers Weekly 1860 A Pipe of Tobacco  Excerpt

A Pipe of Tobacco

Harper’s New Monthly Magazine

the tobacco trade tn

The New York Tobacco Trade in Print

Evening Post, The Evening Post, New York Evening Post

Bonded Tobacco Company brochure  p1

If the Facts Appeal to You Read This Booklet

Information Packet with information claiming to make “smoking safe for smokers”
The Bonded Tobacco Company

Scientific American The Cigarette Doomed 1889  Full

The Cigarette Doomed

Scientific American
August 31, 1889

Health Cigars  border

We desire to call your attention to our health cigars

Letter to Mr. G.R. Solomon
Health Tobacco Company
April 19,  1904

How the Red Cross, New York Newspapers, and Tin Pan Alley

The popularity of cigarettes dramatically increased during World War I, and this was in part due to cigarettes being sent to the boys overseas. The funds for these shipments were raised in part by the Red Cross ladies auxiliary’s of medical societies and even medical association’s themselves, often the can was passed at movie theaters and some of these funds were sponsored by newspapers. The sheet music that you see are examples of the most popular form of music at that time, and The Makings of the USA: An Appeal in Song for Tobacco for the Boys Over There, is a great example of this. Other sheet music reflected the increasing romanticism of the cigarette, Two Cigarettes in the Dark and While a Cigarette was Burning, of course there’s Smoke Gets In Your Eyes and much later Sam Cooke’s Smoke Rings.

“Your Lips Are No Man’s Land But Mine”

Sheet music
Words by Arthur Guy Empey and music by Charles R. McCarron and Carey Morgan
Joseph W. Stern & Co. New York, NY

1918 Makins of the USA Front Cover

“The Makin’s of the U.S.A. A Plea in Song for Tobacco for the Boys Over There”

Sheet Music
Words by Vincent Bryan and music by Harry Von Tilzer
New York, NY.
Harry Von Tilzer Music Publishing Co.

1934 Two Cigarettes in the Dark Gloria Grafton

Two Cigarettes in the Dark

Sheet Music
Harry Madden & Philip Dunning
De Sylva Brown and Henderson, Inc.

1938 While a Cigarette was Burning

While a Cigarette Was Burning

Sheet Music
Charles and Nick Kenny
ABC Music Corporation

Learn more about tobacco’s role in the First World War and its lasting affect on the military society and the world in our exhibition: The Makin’s of a Nation: Tobacco in World War I 

WWI Logo White
Saturday Evening Post When Your Son Starts Smoking

When your Son Starts Smoking

The Saturday Evening Post

The National Police Gazette May 19 1917 New York  Excerpt

Tobacco Heart!

The National Police Gazette
May 19, 1917

Brooklyn Camel Winner 1

Brooklyn Camel Prize Winner 

Photograph and Letter
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.

1917 mecca nyc ad

1,000,000 Men Reach Their Goal

The Evening World
January 28, 1917

1917 atc to every smoker in the city

To every smoker in the city…

American Tobacco Company
The Evening World

Cremo Cigars

Spit is a horrid word…

The “war against spitting” was a public health initiative against spitting tobacco, cigars and later cigarettes were considered “healthier” alternatives to chewing tobacco which spread infectious disease like tuberculous.


Cremo Cigars

Camel Sales Book 1 Resize 60

Camel Cigarette Salesman Book

Printed in many languages used by representatives of the R.J. Reynolds company as they sold Camel cigarettes to the multitude of ethnic stores in New York City. 1929

Salesman Book
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.

Camel ad New cellophane 1931

It keeps them so Mild and Fresh!

Cigarette Ad touting Cellophane wrapping to keep out moisture.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.
Hearst’s International-Cosmopolitan
June, 1931

Pipe LaGuardia at Ease 2

Pipe LaGuardia at Ease

New York City’s Historic Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia smokes a corn cob pipe.

The News Telegram (Portland, Oregon)
September 10, 1937


Explore the First 200 Years with the Links Below

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