Seventy-five-year-old Dan Spaniola stands in the storefront of Paul’s Pipe Shop, puffing on his favorite pipe filled with hand-blended tobacco that he likely made himself, gazing at downtown Saginaw Street–the place his family business has called home for generations.
It’s been eight years since his father, the six-time pipe smoking champion and founder of the shop Paul Spaniola died just six months after his 100th birthday, but Dan and his son Carl continue to spend every day working, keeping the business alive.
The inconspicuous storefront with a sign that reads “Caution: This is not a smoke-free establishment. Please hold your breath while I smoke” leads you into the shop which, according to Spaniola, is host to almost a million pipes. Like many doorways on Saginaw Street, it’s an entrance to not just a shop, but history of the city.
The shop has had 4 locations during its 93 years in business, and for over 40 years it has been among the many businesses, homes, and parks that make Saginaw Street what it is. Segmenting the city from north to south, to travel along Saginaw Street is to pass by a storied history of Flint, Michigan.
Saginaw Street is also host to events like the Crim Festival of Races, Back to the Bricks, the Gus Macker basketball tournament, to name a few, and it is the location of many Flint Public Art Project murals.
Scroll through our pictures below for a visual tour of the street that defines so much of the city.