Notes and Abbreviations

These databases began life without much thought to making them available to others, so their method and short-hand may appear quirky to outsiders.  Please free to contact me ( if you have any questions.

The old directories are fascinating in that they show cities evolving, but they're also a nightmare of typos and mis-speak.  I usually compiled the databases by starting with the earlier years and then moving forward.  If a business name suddenly changed its spelling or if the building number of an address changed, I had no idea whether this was intentional and permanent or simply a typo. Thus, I added the modification in parentheses, producing an entry that might look like this: Herman(n) M(e)yer.  If the modification disappeared in subsequent years, then I assumed that it was a typo and deleted it.  If it stuck, then I noted the new spelling.  If there were no further entries for this business, then there was no opportunity to remove the parentheses and so they remain in the listings.

Some businesses existed for the full 50 years from 1870 to Prohibition, but they may only have shown up in the directories once every decade or less.  If the first name of the owner had changed (for example, if a son had taken over from the father) or if the address had changed, there was no way of knowing if two entries represented the evolution of a single business or two separate businesses.  I always created a new entry in such cases and that's the way they remain until I have evidence suggesting that the two should be merged into one.

Because the old cities were still growing and evolving during the period of coverage, there were frequent changes in names of streets and in the street numbering system.  Pittsburgh was a prime example, with several major changes occurring during the period of coverage.  Thus, just because a business address changes, one should not necessarily assume that the business actually moved location.  I tried to take note of such changes in the city-specific sections below.

Standard Abbreviations: betw: between, cor: corner, est: Estate of (i.e. estate of deceased), junct: junction,  ES: East Side, WS: West Side NS: North Side, SS: South Side, nd = not defined. 

Occasionally, you will run into an abbreviation of a book title.  For example, "PO&N" in the Philadelphia directory listings refers to a book entitled "Philadelphia Old and New", an old advertising book that supplied valuable background information on many of the old dealers.  A key to book and magazine abbreviations can be found in the bibliography 


City Notes:
Baltimore, MD
Listings include entries for "Wine & Liquor, Retail" from all years except 1871, while entries for following years are incomplete (early letter of the alphabet are usually missing): 1875, 1877, 1879, 1881, 1882, 1883, 1884, 1885, 1886, 1889, 1895, 1896, 1897, 1899.   I have no "Distillers" for 1884 and nothing for 1918. 
There was a city-wide number change in the 1887 directory. Old numbers appear after the new address.  Tel numbers are shown beginning 1902. In 1904, "temporary locations" are given following a fire (February, 1904), with many new addresses appearing in 1905 and many more in 1906.  In 1910, at least two streets appear to have changed names (Canton becomes Fleet?). Retailers listings drop dramatically beginning 1890 but picks up again in 1895.

Boston, MA
These listings were created by Howard Currier using various sources, including a single City Directory (1900) and information on brand registration from the Mida Registry of 1906.

Chicago, IL
1872, 1873, 1900, 1903, 1904, 1912 directory pages are missing.
1909: Major street renumbering with relocation of the E/W divide occurred on Sept. 1, 1909.  Madison Street became the N/S divide and State Street the E/W divide.    1911: another street renumbering affected the central business district (south of the main river, east of the south branch and north of 12 th St.  Changes went into effect April 1, 1911.  1918: 5 th Ave becomes Wells.

Cincinnati, OH.

Early directory copies  included pages for "Wines & Liquor Dealers" but these were no longer available to me from 1890 on.  This left just "Whiskey, Wholesale" and "Distillers".  Addresses of virtually all businesses changed with the 1896 directory, reflecting a city-wide renumbering.

Cleveland, OH.
The 1870's & 1880's directories were erratic and inconsistent in classifying the wholesalers and retailers, until 1883. In 1881 or 1882, Pearl Street and Detroit St (and possible others) were renumbered.  Listings for distillers first appeared in 1886.  1896 directory pages are totally absent. There is a city-wide street renumbering that is hinted at in 1904, begins in earnest in 1905 (many numbers are the same but designated as "old"), and takes full effect in 1906.

Columbus, OH

Directory pages for Columbus are fairly complete.  Two different directories cover the periods 1872-1873, 1882-1889. All the High Street addresses change numbers in 1888, suggesting a 1887 renumbering. 1875 has only one entry, 1895 is missing.

Covington, KY

Directory pages are available for alternating years only from 1867 to 1918.  Listings for "Distillers" are only available from 1867 to 1898, with the remaining years constituting "Whiskies" and "Wines & Liquors".  Note that in 1900 many companies appear with the same address (SE cor. Front & Scott).  Presumably this was a new building where out-of-town Distillers set up branch offices.

Indianapolis, IN.
There was a renumbering of several of the major streets in 1896 or 1897, including Washington and Meridian.

Milwaukee, WI
No listings published for 1864.  All the street addresses increased in number in 1865, suggesting a city-wide street renumbering. 1867/1868 - Chesnut is now being spelled Chestnut.  There is a large gap in my copies from 1882-1888 and 1891-1896.   I have no pages for 1907.  1908 saw the addresses of many businesses change- not because of street renumbering but perhaps because of city expansion?  

New York, NY
These listings are largely the work of Mark Smith.  His collecting interests focus on bottles and the listings were taken from his research on the originators of the bottles in his collection.  The directories that used to create the histories include New York City in 1880, 1885, 1890, 1895, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1906, 1915, 1916, 1917 and 1918 and Brooklyn; 1875, 1895, 1902, 1903, 1904, and 1906.

Norfolk, VA
Directories for 1874-1875, 1875-1876 and 1883-1884 include listings for Portsmouth and are included.  Ads for Baltimore start appearing in 1888.  The 1897 directory shows that a recent street renumbering is in effect with listings including old and new numbers.  A second renumbering occurred in or around 1912, appearing in the 1913 directory.

Peoria, IL.
There was a street renumbering, perhaps city-wide but evident in Washington addresses, in 1872/1873, with both old and new numbers indicated in the 1873 directories. The 1881 directory shows that Water St. has been renumbered. Directories are missing Liquor wholesalers for 1901, no distillers for 1904 or 1905. There are no liquor-related entries for 1920. My directory copies include partial listings for Saloons for 1881-1886: they were not included here

, PA 
Four different directories cover Philadelphia.  Most entries from 1890 on come from Boyd's and the rest are from Gopsill's.  The only major street name change was Coates St. to Fairmount Ave between 1873/1874.  Main street in Germantown became  Germantown Ave when Philadelphia swallowed its neighbor.

Pittsburgh, PA
The city saw many changes, principal of which was the merging of Pittsburgh on the North side of the river and Allegheny on the south.  There was a major street name renumbering in 1884 and again 1896 and again in 1899 (Ohio Ave). The directories dealt with the transition by indicating whether the number was "old" or "new".  Washington became Warrington in 1910.  Abbreviations in the directories included "A" for Allegheny, "SS" for South Side.   

San Francisco, CA
San Francisco entries were originally compiled, condensed and then published in booklet form by Eric Maguire (1967).  Since I do not have access to the original directories, I can't be sure of their accuracy.  The listings are for "Liquors - Wholesalers and Importers" only.

St. Louis, MO
In 1867, all the street numbers have changed. "Chesnut" became "Chestnut" in 1872. In 1885, Carondelet became Broadway, as did 5 th St.  In 1914,  Main became 1 st St.


last updated: October 15, 2009                  

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