Community Archaeology and the Criminal Past: Exploring a Detroit Speakeasy

Author(s): Brenna J Moloney

Year: 2016


Community-engaged archaeology has played a role in reshaping the city of Detroit’s popular heritage narrative from one of decline and decay to one more rich and complex. In 2013, archaeologists from Wayne State University investigated Tommy's Bar, a rumored Prohibition-era speakeasy and haunt of the infamous Purple Gang. The project was a partnership between the University, a historic preservation non-profit, and the bar's owner. The project culminated in a theme party where archaeologists shared their findings with the public and led tours of the site. The event was one of the most popular and widely-attended in the history of the non-profit and garnered extensive media attention, which allowed WSU archaeologists to showcase their work. The project also resulted in the site becoming a regular stop on tours of the city given by local tour companies as well as continuing to draw interested visitors from all over the world. 

Cite this Record

Community Archaeology and the Criminal Past: Exploring a Detroit Speakeasy. Brenna J Moloney. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 434914)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 407