Native Detroiter Bailey Sisoy Isgro is making history come alive with Detroit History Tours.
By Taylor Morris
Photography by Hayden Stinebaugh
“Out with the old and in with the new” isn’t a saying that Bailey Sisoy Isgro, owner, director and founder of Detroit History Tours and The Detroit History Club, necessarily lives by. With all the latest and exciting things happening in downtown Detroit, Isgro is devoting her time to shedding light on the city’s history.
Not only is Isgro, 31, a business owner, but she is also an author and lecturer. Recently, she’s written for “The Detroit Neighborhood Guidebook” and Detour Detroit. She is the author of the children’s book “Rosie, A Detroit Herstory,” published in August by Wayne State University Press. Isgro has also appeared as a contributor on the Travel Channel and is a frequent guest on history-themed podcasts such as the “D-Brief” and “Digging Detroit.”
It wasn’t until Isgro, a native Detroiter, started traveling around the world that she realized what was missing back home: the option to book a Detroit tour.
“I was going around the world, and I realized the first thing that I was doing when I traveled was booking a tour, specifically history tours,” she says. “Whether it was Boston or New York, or Scotland or London, I would book these tours.”
After some research, Isgro found some nonprofits organized daytime tours and a few small companies offered tours with drinking, like a bar crawl. To Isgro, Detroit still had a hole that wasn’t filled.
So, she established the Detroit History Tours in 2015. What started off as a fun hobby for Isgro, turned into a huge success and a way for people worldwide to learn about Detroit. When she first started, she hosted around four tours a month. Today, the company hosts over 200 tours a year, featuring 17 guides and 11 different tours.
On top of the tour company, Isgro founded sister company Detroit History Club, which also focuses on Detroit history. Members participate in events around the city such as history lectures in private homes and late-night scavenger hunts in the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Detroit History Tours manager Augusta Rose says when she met Isgro, she was blown away by her enthusiasm and authenticity.
“Her passion for sharing Detroit history, ability to tell stories, make an entire group of people laugh while learning, made me not think twice about wanting to sign up for tour after tour and tell all of my friends about it,” Rose says. “Her tour company and Detroit History Club are opening up opportunities for people to hang out in Detroit and learn about the importance Detroit has made in shaping this state, country and world.”
Isgro, who gives evening and daytime tours, makes sure all her tours visit locally owned businesses around Detroit. She is also a huge supporter of helping Detroit charities. Overall, she has raised over $20,000 to help seven charities and 11 causes. When asked why she decided to invest in Detroit, Isgro says it’s her hometown and she enjoys showing people Detroit’s history.
“There’s nowhere I know as much about, there’s nowhere I love as deeply, there’s nowhere I have the connections like in Detroit…and to get to share that with people, it’s like being a host,” she says. “When we are on a tour, I feel like I am hosting guests, and I am showing them my hometown. Being able to share that pride and that excitement…that’s a gift.”
Detroit resident Erica Ciupak, a frequent Detroit History Tours guest, says it’s no secret Isgro has a passion for Detroit history.
“By sharing her enthusiasm for Detroit and history, Bailey is helping Metro Detroiters build their own pride in, and love for, our great city,” Ciupak says.