Welcome fellow Commoners,
I’m happy to bring you all another spotlight on a #maker here at the Commons, Michelle Zimmer’s project The Bronx was Brewing.
In the years before prohibition, over sixteen hundred breweries pumped out more than 2 billion gallons of beer a year. By the end of prohibition, only a handful remained. Many of the most famous pre-prohibition breweries survived by making products other than beer–Pabst made cheese; Coors made ceramics; Yuengling made ice cream.
While most people think of Brooklyn as the flannel-clad spiritual home of the craft food movement, Zimmer (MALS 2018) offers a very different view of the brewing industry. Focusing on her home borough of The Bronx, Zimmer explores the rich brewing history of the nineteenth-century when beer was often safer to drink than water.
Zimmer’s project is ambitious, combining the digitized archival documents, original photojournalism, and a scholarly but relatable style. It is a glimpse into the thriving immigrant mecca the Bronx has always been. For me, the lesson in Zimmer’s work is that that industries die out and the cultures that arise in connection with them evolve.
Grab your favorite craft brew, and dive into this interview with Michelle Zimmer about her amazing project.
Note: This interview has been compiled from emails and notes. It has been lightly edited for style and content.