Today’s Fun Historical Fact, Week 2

November 18, 2009

My research for the new series continues….

From Carl Bridenbaugh’s exhaustive (and, at times, exhausting) urban study, Cities In Revolt:  Urban Life in America, 1743-1776 (Oxford University Press, 1971) comes this tidbit:

According to  Bridenbaugh, “The tavern was the most flourishing of all urban institutions” in the mid-eighteenth century.  New York had more taverns and public houses than any other colonial city, reaching a high of 334 in 1752 [roughly one tavern for every 45 people in the city], but that doesn’t mean that the other cities didn’t engage in their fair share of drinking.  In fact, in  1752, the colony of Pennsylvania imported 526,700 gallons of rum and distilled 80,000 more, “and most of this was consumed in or near the city [of Philadelphia].”  A generous estimate of Philadelphia’s population at the time would come in at around 20,000 people, and even if we assume that only half that rum remained in the city, that puts the annual consumption at about 15 gallons for every man, woman, and child.  That’s a lot of daiquiris….

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