Bicycling | Bicycle Manufacturers
Chicago Tribune, September 7, 1884.
Within the last few years the bicycle has come into prominence as a means of locomotion. It has not been utilized for business purposes, at least in the United States, and is ridden here more for health or pleasure. In England the “bike” is much used for business purposes, and it is said that in some parts of the Kingdom families have sold their horses and carriages and now go to church, to market, to the bank, etc., upon the horse that eats no oats and is not subject to glanders. It is not so long ago when the passage of a bicycle along a public street would cause people to turn about and gaze after it, when a horse at sight of the bicycle and rider would stand upon its hind legs and paw the air, or split the atmosphere in a vain attempt to leave behind the memory of that frightful apparition. But now, when the swift, noiseless wheel hums by the gaze of languid curiosity is directed to the bicyclist more to learn whether his horse are green, red, or striped than anything else. The staid, old carriage-horse merely twitches one ear and winks an eye, as if to say:
You can go faster than I can, but your bones will never be fit for oleomargarine.
The late idler in the park in paths sacred to pedestrians will have the breadth taken away by the flash of nickel-plated wheels controlled by a young man in short clothes, and making no more noise than the passage of a bat or a night-hawk. Should you drive out on the boulevards never so far you will find the bicyclist. He enjoys the fun of passing your crack trotter; he saucily dodges in and out on the crowd of equipages. On country roads you will find him; his presence is discovered in the grass-grown lane. A year or two ago, when the bicycle was new, it was as much as the rider’s life was worth to venture upon the rural roads. The matron driving old Dobbin to the market town would be terrified nearly unto death at the sudden apparition of “one of them velocipede fellers.” As he approached and Dobbin’s ears pointed forward she would stop and begin to pull on the reins. The docile old horse would begin to back, in obedience bred, and this would be a fresh source of terror to the worthy matron of the wagon. Often-times an accident would be averted only by the bicyclist springing from his vehicle and catching the old horse by the bridle. His reward would be then tart remark, that if he had “only stood still” there would have been no harm done. Alas, poor bicycle! Unlike the horse, its best hold is not in standing still. It is in best control when in the most rapid motion.
THE BAD SMALL BOY.
But the bicycle is likely to fall into unworthy hands. The half-grown boy in the quiet side-street, where the policeman comes only upon his tri-weekly visit to his “cold-chicken” girl, has everything his own sweet way. He usurps the sidewalk, and, not content with driving off the baby-wagons, bumps into the pedestrian. The earth is his, and the fullness thereof, and as long as the “pa” lives on the street the boy considers that he has a warranty deed upon the sidewalk for two blocks each way. The bitterest thing ever said against the bicycle was several years ago, when a paragrapher stated that bicycles had no rights upon the street; and when a young man’s “pa” was rich enough to buy him a bicycle the old man should throw in a forty-acre lot for him to ride in.
The use of the bicycle keeps pace with the rapid increase of the wealthy of the community. A first-class machine of the kind costs between $75 and $150. Dry-goods clerks on a salary of $12 per week with a family to support don’t use them. The possession of a bicycle is as much an indication of well-to-doness as the livery upon the coachman.
ITS RIGHTS UNDER THE LAW.
As the use of the bicycle is becoming so common the natural inquiry is as to the law and the rights of the bicyclists on roads, streets, and other highways. In Chicago there are no restrictions upon its use. The streets, boulevards, and parks are open to the use of bicyclists. There is an ordinance prohibiting the riding of bicycles, etc., upon sidewalks, but it is not and never has been enforced. The smooth roads, boulevards, and streets of this city and vicinity have given it the name of the “bicyclists’ paradise.” Quite against the law the gentleman with short pants rides upon the footpaths of the parks, and quite against the law he frightens the nursemaids and toddling babies.
The question now in a great many minds is, Has the bicycle a right to part of the road as against other vehicles? A correspondent from Geneva, Ill., sends the following extract from the statutes, which he thinks ought to settle the question:
“Secretary Sherman,” says this corespondent, “under advice from the Law Department at Washington, June 30, 1877, decided that the bicycle was a ‘carriage” and dutiable as such.”
A FRIEND IN THE PULPIT.
This at once opens a great field of inquiry. Is a bicycle a vehicle? A reporter for The Tribune yesterday called upon a man well known as a clergyman, and as an owner and rider of a bicycle, for an answer to this question.
“Yes, sir; I am a bicyclist,” he responded to the first question.
“Do you consider your bicycle a vehicle?”
“I do,” he replied. “Though I have no room under the seat for lunch baskets, and there is no chance for a dispute as to who shall ride backwards, I consider it a vehicle.”
“Do you often take long rides?”
“Oh, yes; I often step over to Racine before breakfast, and stop to Janesville for lunch, bringing up at Western avenue in time for a 5 o’clock dinner.”
“Are the roads always good?”
“There is one peculiarity about the Illinois prairie road in connection to with a bicycle. The either carries you or you carry the bicycle.”
“When you meet a team to which side do you turn?”
“If the man looks very mad I generally get off and wait until he passes by.”
“Don’t you know there is a law compelling every ‘vehicle’ to turn to the right upon meeting a team?”
“I have heard so, but never yet knew a team to give an inch to a bicycle rider.”
HAS THE RIGHTS OF A VEHICLE.
Mr. J. O. Blake of the John Wilkinson Company is the head centre of the bicycle riders of the city. To him went the reporter.
“Bicycles coming into this country,” said Mr. Blake, “are classed as pleasure vehicles.”
“How about a share of the road?”
“Though we have never asked for it, we are entitled to half the road in meeting teams. This principle has been established in frequent cases in the East. As classified in customs duties bicycles are ‘vehicles,’ and come under law as such.”
“How about the local laws on the subject?”
“In a test case in Springfield, Mass., the other day the city law was declared null, because it conflicted with the statute laws. It will win every time a case is brought.”
“Do the truckmen and many teamsters take kindly to this law or decision.”
“No, they are inclined to be a little saucy in every instance. In Boston two or three examples have been made at them, and now they are passably civil. The courts uphold the bicyclist every time on that point. Why should people have such a prejudice against the bicycle? According to the statistics there has thus far been one fatal accident occasioned by a bicycle in frightening horses or throwing riders. Can you name any other vehicle of which the same can be said? Even in England, where thousands are used, no accidents have occurred, though they are in the streets all the time. The fatal accident spoken of was a collision with a carriage, where, the rider was thrown under the horses’ feet.”
HAS COME TO STAY.
“How many riders are there in the city?”
“Between 600 and 700 who own fine bicycles.”
“You have many privileges in Chicago as bicyclists?”
“We hawve full permission to ride on all streets, boulevards, and in all the parks, but not on the sidewalks, and if the law was strictly enforced as to sidewalks there would be no complaint. The whole trouble arises from boys who get a bicycle or velocipede and rise on the sidewalks or in paths of the parks.”
“Is the pastime growing?”
“Yes, beyond all account. Here is a new club just formed on the North Side which includes two clergymen, three attorneys, one general manager of a railway, two prominent physicians, and the rest, twenty-six in all, merchants of wealth and standing. Yes, there are in this club three married women tricyclists and one unmarried, al of the higher circles, who ride for health and pleasure. You have no idea how popular this amusement is becoming; but it has come to stay.”
“A GAME FOR BYES SORR!”
Dennis Maguire, who drives a heavy two-horse goods truck for a South Water street wholesale grocery house, was interviewed. He said:
“Is it give the road to them fly-away divils in their short pants? Sure Oi’ll nivir do it, Let them git out uv my way or Oi’ll droive over them! Be the bomes of Fayther John but it would be the great fun to see them run into me truck. They’d be wilcome to all the satisfaction they got.”
“Dennis,” asked the repoorter, “do you consider the bicycle a vehicle?
“Divil aq bit ov a vayhacle.”
“What is it then?”
“A game for boys, sorr.”
“Would you not turn out and give them half the road?”
“Whin Oi do, ye’ll foind me last sickness coning on, sorr.”
The information gathered seems to establish the fact that the laws on the subject are just a trifle hazy. The status and rank of the “swift, noiseless sheel” should be fixed beyond a doubt.
The Wheel and Cycling Trade Review, May 4, 1888, and July 6, 1888
The “safety bicycle” (right) was introduced in the United States in 1884, but didn’t become popular till the 1890’s.
Chicago Tribune, May 5, 1895
This is the story of a bicycle spin around Chicago over the boulevard route and through the parks. It is the result of a trip taken by a rider who started from The Tribune office, went around the town and at finished at the starting point. It took the rider four hours of busy pedaling to make the run. Swift scorchers can do the job in much less time, but the man who furnished the material for this story did no scorching. He plodded along, kept moving all the time, and watched for points of interest. He found many and came back satisfied that the ride over the big system of boulevards and through the beautiful parks of Chicago is worth the time and energy it takes to accomplish it.
in the first place the distance is determined. The route traversed is often covered, but few riders can tell when they take a boulevard ride just how far they have gone. Of course, there are many little crooks and turns in a park ride that cannot be estimated. A rider who carries a cyclo-meter can tell just how far he has pedaled he figures up at the end of a trip, but the straight lines on the boulevard-park trip, as done by the man who went over the ground for The Tribune, results in a correct computation. D. E. Maher, civil engineer in the map department at the City Hall, figured out the miles traveled by the rider and here is the result:
Now comes the story of the ride, what streets were used and what parks were visited. The 27.67 miles, it must be understood, are as the crow flies, and do not include little turns and rounds in the parks unavoidable in looking at the beauties and of points of interest.
Start on the Pretty Bide.
First, The Tribune office, as everybody knows, is located at Madison and Dearborn streets. The bicyclist left that point at 8 o’clock a. m. and went directly east to Michigan boulevard. There he turned south, passing the Lake-Front Park on the left and the Auditorium and other big hotels and buildings on the right. At Park row the big Illinois Central depot was passed, and along down at Twenty-second street the Lexington Hotel. From there the run was direct south to Thirty-fifth street, where a turn to the east brought the rider to Grand boulevard, with its beautiful stretch of street and lines of trees. Southward the wheelman went and reached Oakwood boulevard. Another eastward turn was made along that thoroughfare to Drexel boulevard. reached at that beautiful junction just below Thirty-ninth street. Then the bicyclist turned south on a splendid piece of road and pedaled directly south to Fifty-first street, where a little turn to the west brought him into Washington Park.
People who live on the South Side say Washington Park is the loveliest spot on earth. Just now it is fresh and new. The grass Is just long enough to need a lawn mower for the first time and the trees are bursting with their foliage. Skirting along the eastern part of the park the rider reached the Midway, haunted with memories of Old Vienna and the other picturesque attractions that flourished there In the reign of the White City. Going east on the north road, which is completed, the rider covered its entire length and made a circle round the Field Museum and then turned west once more, retracing the track and once more going into Washington Park.
Those splendid floral pictures that add so much to the summer beauty of the park are just commencing to burst into life. On the eastern part is the palm house, full of rare plants and the pride of the gardener. The landscapists have done well there and this spring Washington Park is well nigh perfect. Finally the refectory on the west side was reached, and, although it was early in the day, there were many wheels stacked up against the verandas, while inviting signs told wayfarers that business was un- der way.
Bird’s Eye View Showing the Bicycle Route Through Chicago’s Parks and Boulevards
On to the Western Parks.
But The Tribune wheelman pushed on past the refectory and got a line in Garfield boulevard. Passing under the tracks of the Alley “L” the rider saw that beautiful stretch of street loom up ahead. He had the choice of two roadways and took the north one. There was enough of; an east wind to make it easy work, and the wheelman fairly new along westward. At State street three paths opened up. The middle one is the west. Children romped on the new grass along the boulevard; babies rolled on it; nurses talked with strolling policemen. Some fine houses and here and there a store were passed as the rider sped across Ashland toward Western avenue.
Finally the corner was reached. Where Gage Park is situated Western avenue boulevard branches north. Gage Park is a little spot away out there. It has diagonal paths, and even if it is little it is mighty pretty and a delightful spot. Then comes Western avenue. The rider turned north upon it and found himself obliged to ride in the cement gutter. The street was full of small bits of crushed stone which had not been rolled down. However, there is nothing better than a cement gutter for a bicycle path.
A hint to men who take women over this course may be dropped here. Fill up on refreshments at Washington Park or at Ashland avenue and Garfield, for Western avenue is dry. There are only three or four refreshment places on the way to Douglas Park. Soda water is plenty, however, up about Twenty-second street, but it’s a long, dry run from Garfield to the fountains that fizz.
Up at Thirty-second street the rider found a sort of hiatus in Western avenue’s good road. In fact, for two blocks the street is absolutely unrideable. There should be a turn to the west there to Southwest boulevard, but it pays to put up with Western and continue north to West Sixteenth street. The rider found the street lad for a few blocks, but it gradually grew better. At Sixteenth street the turn west made and a run of four blocks brought the rider into Doualas Park.
Beauties of Douglas Park.
Douglas Park is four miles southwest or the Court-House and contains 179 acres. The chief beauties the rider found were its splendid lake, its foliage trees, its floral decorations, and the large house, called the Winter Gardens. This house fronts onl Ogden avenue, a pretty little bit of asphalt, and Is midway between the east and west sides of the park. There is also a large lawn at the southwest end, and young girls, carrying lunch-baskets, were already preparing a tennis court. There are some pretty terraces worth looking at in the park, the palm house being In the midst of them. The artesian well in a grotto feeds the lake, and Its water Is said to be medicinal. There is a good refectory In the park.
From Douglas the rider headed for Garfield Park. He wheeled out on Douglas boulevard, went west for a dozen blocks, and then turned north on Douglas and Central Bark. Garfield Park Is ten blocks north. There children play all day and bicyclists enjoy good, easy roads. There are 1S5 acres In Garfileld, all thickly planted with shade trees and shrubs. Pretty little groves we found everywhere, and the big green-house in the southwestern corner is a beauty the rear around. There are rare orchids in it. the park lake has two islands and is now beginning to take on a lively air. Boats dotted its surface even if it was early In the day and as the rolle4 out of the park Ie met a wagon carrying three pleasure craft.
Out of Garfield sped the rider on Central Park boulevard-an excellent wheelman s toad. lie was bound for one of the prettiest of all Chicago’s parks—Humboldt. It is less critical than the others. It looks more like a bit of virgin forest. Method is not carried out there to the extent it is in other pleasure spots. The trees and shrubs seem promiscuous and the aspect is more that of a bit of country. The landscape was manufactured, but it certainly has less sign of it than do other parks.
Attractions of Humboldt Park
Of course the chief attraction in Humboldt Park is the bronze statue of Alexander von Humboldt, for whom the park was named.
It was unveiled in 1892 and stands in a commanding position, facing the east. It was presented to the park by F. J. Dewes. The right hand, half raised, holds a flower, while the left has in it a book. Other symbolic figures are grouped about the feet. There is also a monument of Fritz Reuter in Humboldt Park. The driveway and footpaths in the park form a perfect network of beauty. The greenhouse is perfect, and the large lawn in front of It is just now gorgeous with tulips. Large beds of these flowers the lawn and are skillfully grouped around the park. The colors are fairly dazzling and startling when first sprung into view. The large lake furnishes scenery that is rare and natural enough to suit even the men who don’t believe in improving upon nature’s handiwork.
Leaving Humboldt Park reluctantly THE TRIBUNE rider once more faced the north. He ran on on to Humboldt boulevard and pedaled toward Palmer Square. This unique bit of speeding track is at Belden avenue and is a rare spot indeed for the wheelman who wants to scorch. It is rather oval than square in form, however, and a spin around it a few times will warm the blood and make the nerves feel the good there is in a bicycle ride. From Palmer Square the rider turned east instead of taking Humboldt boulevard, and on reaching California avenue sped northward to Fullerton. There are not many houses in this part of town just yet, but those that are there look as if their owners were prosperous and thrifty. At Fullerton avenue the rider wheeled toward the lake and commenced the run toward Lincoln Park.
Ending Up the Run.
Fullerton avenue is not bad for a bicycle. There are fragmentary street car tracks at intermittent intervals, but the pavement is cedar block in good condition and the most of it Is fairly smooth. It is a long, dusty ride. however, at its best, but it is probably the best route just now to Lincoln Park from the West Side. Down where Fullerton crosses Milwaukee unmistakable signs that this is the real North Side begin to appear in the way of advertising boards with picturesque names and the men and women with “growlers.” Away off In the distance were seen the trees of the famous North Side park and in a short time THE TRIBUNE was once more amid trees and flowers and fragrance.
Lincoln Park is always interesting. There are the animals, the flowers, the palms, the statues, the ponds, the big trees, the shrubs. and the green grass. Passing south past the greenhouse the rider wheeled over to the caves and dens and cages containing the wild animals. From there a zigzag route was chosen and past the “Signal of Peace” monument the rider went, up the grade to where the effigy of Grant, “The Silent Man,” sits a-horseback. and then down to where Lincoln’s bronze monument rests. Then came a turn east once more, and the Dearborn avenue asphalt seemed more inviting than the prospect of a whirl down the Lake Shore drive. Down Dearborn went the wheelman and then came the only time when he was at any time in danger. Teamsters act as if they would rather run over a bicyclist than let him ride along in safety. Passing over to the Rush street bridge THE TRIBUNE bicyclist carefully wended his way between the bloodthirsty coal wagon drivers and got up to Lake street, where he once more turned west to Dearborn. Then he moved directly south to THE TRIBUNE office and landed at the front door just as the clock pointed to 12 m.
The 27.67 miles had been reeled off in exactly four hours.
Chicago Bicyclists on a Nicholson Paved Road.1
Chicago Tribune, May 17, 1896
There is a new division of mankind. It is no longer the man who buys his winter coal at wholesale in the summer and the man who buys is by the load when the bin is empty. The boundary line between the tailor-made man and the ready-made man is obsolete. There are no longer carriage folk and street car people. The girl with and without the chaperon speak as they pass by.
All the old kings are dead. Long live the king!
His name is King Bicycle and great is his power of the land.
All the world is divided into two parts—the part which rides a bicycle and the part which doesn’t.
In the fall of 1888 the solid-tired “bone-shaker” safety bicycle made its appearance. It was regarded as a curiosity. But it was a safety.
Today there are 4,000,000 riders of safeties in the United States, whose wheels cost them $300,000,000. And more wheels are coming at the rate of 1,000,000 a year.
In Chicago alone there are 200,000 riders, whose wheels cost them $15,000,000. A total of over $30,000,000 is invested here in cycling in one way or another.
Now, whether you are a rider, or think you will get a wheel someday, or entirely and condemn the bicycle, these astonishing facts and figures must interest you as a loyal American and a thinking person. For these facts mean much—fortunes invested in the manufacture of wheels, bicycle clothing, and sundries; hundreds of millions of dollars diverted from the usual channels of trade; armies of men employed at a new trade and in new lines of business; fortunes made by those in line with the craze; depression in trades and businesses out of the line; a revolution in our habits of life, and consequent changes affecting the mental, moral, and physical condotion of the people of the United States.
Some of these facts and conditions, and problems are herewith presented by The Tribune for its readers.
Two hundred thousand wheels in use in Chicago!
What an immense aggregation of iron, rubber, leather, and wood this is few persons stop to consider, and the numbers which a little figuring gives are almost beyond belief. The combined weight which this number will support is 150,000 tons, or several times the weight of the Masonic Temple. The combined weight of the wheels themselves is 2,500 tons, or nearly the weight of the United States steel-armored man-of-war Boston. If all the tubing used in these wheels was put in a straight line it would extend from here to New York. Furthermore, if all the material used in these wheels was to be combined in one large wheel it would require the entire United States to make a suitable bike path for it to run on.
It is needless to say the public has paid out an extraordinary amount of money to obtain and use these 200,000 wheels. At an average cost of $75 apiece, the sum invested in wheels alone by the people of Chicago is $15,000,000. When we come to consider the factories, repair shops, and retail establishments; the clothes, sundries, and appliances owned by the riders; the bicycle club-houses and property; the racing tracks and racing paraphernalia, the total money invested by Chicago in the bicycle craze amounts up close to the tremendous total of $33,000,000.
By this sum it is not intended to say that $33,000,000 could be realized on cycling property. That is far from the case. Just as the average cost of each wj=heel was about $75, the present average value is about $50, making the total marketable worth of the cycles in Chicago about $10,000,000. Following up this estimate it is safe to say the market value of all wheel goods owned in Chicago is about $25,000,000.
Chicago the Cycling Center.
When it comes to an estimate of wheels and riders, bicycle makers and bicycle investors, the fact sticks out with unsuspected prominence that Chicago is the bicycle center of the United States. On this account, as startling as are the figures for the whole country, the estimates for Chicago are even more remarkable and naturally of more local interest.
Last year a couple of trade journalists made an exhaustive estimate of the number of bicycle riders in the City of Chicago. It was an impossible task to be exact, and will probably never be accurately accomplished until its is made a part of taking the census. The figures obtained, however, pointed to a total of 150,000 wheelmen in the city. Figuring on a conservative estimate of a one-third increase this year, which the retail dealers say is more than justified by the amount of their sales, this would put the total number of bicycle riders in Chicago at 200,000.
This estimate, made by a careful system of observation and computation, is astonishingly near those made by other means. The leading manufacturers, retail dealers, and cycling club members all have means of forming an expert opinion, and their guesses ran from 100,000 to 300,000. It is thought by some of the delegates to the Associated Cycling clubs thaqt twenty men ride wheels for everyone belonging to a club. As about 100,000 members are enrolled in the Associated Cycling clubs this still keeps the estimate at 200,000.
To find what per cent of the 200,000 riders in the city is women and children is another task which defies accuracy. Counts made of the number of women and men riders passing a given point in a given time show a wide variation according to hour and locality. On Michigan avenue during the hours when people are going to and from business the average of women is about one in fifty. Take the same place in the evening or on a Sunday afternoon and the per cent runs as high as one in three. From a series of observations and from the opinions of dealers the proportion of women riders in the city has been settled upon at 20 per cent of the whole number of bicyclists.This would give 40,000 women riding wheels.
A like computation puts the number of children at 1 per cent, or 2,000.
Leads in Cycle Manufacturing.
Not alone as a wheel-riding town is Chicago at the front in the whole of the United States, as a wheel-manufacturing center it also easily leads all American cities. The principal makers of bicycles here, in fact, declare Chicago’s prominence is more marked in the production than in the consumption of wheels. Yet this city builds this year barely 50,000 more bicycles than are now in use by its inhabitants.
Twenty-five wheel factories, each producing at least 1,000 bicycles this year, are located in Chicago. Their combined output is close to 250,000 wheels, or one-fourth of the entire probable output in the United States this season.
Among the Chicago concerns is the largest single manufactory of wheels in the world. Its output is variously rated at from 40,000 to 60,000 finished machines. Close behind it comes another Chicago concern, making 30,000 wheels. Tied for third place are two other factories each building 20,000.
Chicago Tribune, April 15, 1894
Eight strong and courageous bicycle riders of Chicago can bid defiance to the somberless male cyclists to beat them at 100 yard runs. In any kind of weather and over any kind of roads over which wheels can be ridden these women have the pluck and endurance and speed to ride even with the best flyers who put “centuries” to their credit.
These eight representatives of the gentler sex are members of the Century Club of America, a national organization possessing a large membership in this city. A member also makes a “century” run is entailed to a gold bar which is then suspended from the club badge. On the bar are engraved the club initials and the date of the run.
Some of these women always have crowded the line in their hundred-mile jaunts. Two have ridden more “centuries” than any other women in the West.
Mrs. Fred McEwen and Miss Alice Waugh divide between them the honor of being the first to demonstrate that “century” riding is not outside the province of womankind. Miss Waugh was a teacher in the city schools. Her experience was short, for her first “century ” was her last.
Mrs. McEwen is a wheelwoman of note. Her rapid, graceful riding is famous throughout the bicycle world. In many a fierce “scorcher” she has easily outstripped the best of the boys. Three bars are suspended from her badge, but she emphatically declares “century ” riding to be nonsense for either men or women, 100 miles in ten hours requiring in her opinion too great and dangerous an expenditure of strength. Although she has been a wheelwoman for seven years and intends to accomplish an immense amount of future riding it is not her intention to undertake another “century.”
Miss Lizzie Hegerty’s fifteen bars bear witness that she is the champion woman cyclist of the West. She has used a wheel for five years. Her 100-mile runs have been principally to Elgin and Aurora and back, but she also has run to Kenosha and Milwaukee. She smiles when describing her first “century.” It was in October, 1891, and was a far greater achievement than her later triumphs, for she rode an old solid tire wheel that weighed fifty pounds, a striking contrast to her present dainty machine of twenty-five pounds weight. She traveled 3,000 miles on the bicycle last summer, and often rides twenty-five miles in a summer evening. Miss Regerty is a tall, handsome young woman, with an exquisite complexion which her excursions in sun and wind do not appear to injure. Her fifteen bars are made into a chain for her watch. If nothing interferes, the chain will be lengthened by a number of additional bars when another season is over. Her cycling dress is a dark Eton suit, the skirt as narrow as possible, with rubber stirrups to keep it in place. She is a bookkeeper in the office of a bicycle company. With superb strength she walks to and from business when the streets are not in condition to make the use of a wheel possible. Her home is three and one-half miles from the office. So her stroll is seven miles daily.
Miss Regerty’s constant companion in her riding is Miss Lucy Porter. That the latter has the brilliant record of fourteen “centuries” is proved by the handsome necklace, composed of fourteen of the Century club bars, that adorns her throat. But though such honors count high Miss Porter can claim greater; she is the first Chicago woman brave and plucky and sensible enough to adopt the use of trousers. She has inaugurated an era. She made her first public appearance in this costume on the occasion of the run Of the Illinois Cycling club to Riverside, early in the month. The suit is trousers extremely graceful and pretty, with no hint of immodesty or unwomanliness. It consists of exceedingly gathered in at the knee; jersey leggins and a long coat-like basque with vest end revere. A bicycle cap gives the last jaunty touch.
The effect is charming, grace and comfort being harmoniously blended. Miss Porter’s sensations on her first experience with this costume are best expressed ia her own words. She said:
“I felt dreadfully nervous. I became so weak I could scarcely ride, but when I entered the club and all the boys came up and shook hands witb me and congratulated me I began to feel better. But I grew nervous when we started out. I fully expected to be hooted and hissed and yelled at all along the route, but, though people stopped and stared at me, I was not tho recipient of any insulting attention until we reached the outskirts of the city, when a group of silly, half-grown boys indulged in cat-calls. But I had got my courage up by that time and didn’t mind it. It took lots of nerve at first, though.”
“How did the new suit affect your riding?”
“I doubled my usual speed, although we were facing the facing the wind. I kept in advance of the club without an effort, which I could not possibly have done in ordinary dress. My wheel seemed five pounds lighter. A skirt is a nuisance. It gets soiled and torn and constantly tangles in the wheel. I was delighted with the experiment and shall never ride in skirts again.”
Miss Porter is a stenographer. She proposes to use her new costume habitually in riding to and from business, keeping a skirt at her office to slip on during working hours that susceptible callers need not be shocked by her attire. This young woman’s independence and courage, wheelmen say, cannot be too highly praised. Her friends believe she has struck the keynote of dress reform not for bicyclIsts only but for a all business-women. Her costume is an ideal work dress.
These two companions rode last summer on their wheels to Clinton, In., and return. Two years ago they explored the interiors of New York, Massachusetts. and New Hampshire in the same manner. Both are expert with the camera; their kodaks are taken on each trip. and they possess fine collections of views of the sections they have visited. They contemplate a trip by wheel to New York and back the coming summer.
Among the Chicago girls first brave enough to attempt the famous “century” run, was Miss Hilda Peterson. Two bars bear testimony to her successful efforts. She is a vigorous and graceful rider, but thinks 100 miles too long a ride for a woman and doubts if she ever attempts to win her third bar. She uses her wheel for pleasure merely, not for honors. Her favorite cycling consists of a bell skirt, Eton jacket, and Stanley cap.
Two sisters in Ravenswood, the Misses Stahl, belong in the honored list; one has made three runs, the other one.
Miss Hattie Bicker has made rather a unique record. She rides a “century” just once a year, but she rides on time and invariably comes in first. She has three bars.
That bicycle riding is conducive to health is the enthusiastic and unanimous verdict of these expert wheel-women. Miss Porter’s innovation in dress is most favorably received. Women who dread to become conspicuous by its use in sunlight are planning to slip out with it on after dark. As the weather becomes milder the boulevards promise to be filled with sprightly girls enjoying the comfort of wearing trousers under the less tell-tale gleams of electricity.
Chicago Tribune, April 12, 1896
BICYCLES AND JACKSON STREET
Boodle Aldermen are seeking to sell to a street railroad corporation the only free east-and-west street left which traverses the business district and which can be used for bicycle and social travel by residents of the West and South Divisions or by other Chicagoans. How much boodlers are to get for their corrupt votes is not publicly known. Some of thom may receive as much as two or three thousand dollars. The cheaper ones may have sold their votes and their constituents for ten to twelve hundred apiece.
But the value to the people of what these corrupt rascals propose to give away to a grasping corporation is inestimable. It can hardly be measured by millions. When Chicagoans once come to understand what the effect would be of the passage of the “Central Electrie” Jackson street ordinance over a veto of Mayor Swift they will mark for political death every man who may have had anything to do with it.
One street after another in the heart of the city has been sold to the railroad companies. At present the only street connecting the South and West Side Park systems which can be used for social travel is Jackson street. There the tens of thousands of bicyclists can get along safely and comfortably. As long as that street and its wide, splendid bridge remain free and unobstructed the boys and the young men and women who take pleasure in a most healthful and enjoyable form of exercise will have perfect facilities for getting from one park of the great system and city to another.
The bicyclist starting from Garfield or Douglas Park can follow the boulevard streets of the West Side eastward. He can cross the South Branch at the fine Jackson street bridge, and go on, unobstructed by trains of street cars, to Michigan boulevard. There he can turn northward to the Public Library or southward to the Art Institute or Auditorium.
Continuing south along the smooth Michgan boulevard he can reach the South Parks. Then turning eastward to the lake and Jackson Park, westward on the Hyde Park and Lake boulevard, which forms the outside connection of the two park systems, he can complete the grand circuit back to Garfield orto Humboldt Park and return to his starting point. And this grand exercise for tens of thousands of young people!
Take away Jackson street, from Michigan to Canal, including the bridge, and he cannot swing around the grand circle.
Take away Jackson street, from Canal to Michigan, and one side of the loop is gone.
It will not be long before Michigan avenue and the Lake Shore drive to Lincoln Park are connected, so that the wheelmen can go with ease over smooth roads from Evanston to Lincoln Park, thence to the Field Columbian Museum.
But if Jackson street from Canal to Michigan boulevard is sold by the boodle Aldermen to the “Central Electric” the North-Siders must ride to Humboldt Park on a Lake View cross street in visiting West Side parks and then return the way they went. Will any of the North Side Aldermen vote to cut off this connection for the bicyclers via Jackson street and the West Side parks and boulevards?
With Jackson street kept preserved for social and family vehicle use there will be two grand loops for the tens of thousands of wheelmen of all parts of the great city, with one side of each extending through the heart of Chicago.
With Jackson street bartered away for bribes the bicyclists can see where they will be. The immense West Division will be pretty much cut off from the others.
The numberof wheelmen in this city must already exceed 100.000. There are multi- tudes of thousands of them who are voters now and are able to strike a blow at the at the treacherous boodlers who have sold out the people s social rights in this city. There are many tens of thousands more who are not voters yet, but who wlil soon be. There Is not a ward in this city which has not bicyclist voters enough to destroy any Alderman who sells out the rights of the bicyclers in this vital connecting street.
Chicago Tribune, May 30, 1897
Woolen sweaters and red and green clocked stockings are no longer en regle in the big wholesale houses clustered around Adams and Franklin streets, and the salesmen and bookkeepers do not push their wheels between bales of prints and stacks of white goods. These establishments do not discourage the use of the wheel, but when it comes to appearing for work in short breeches the managers interpose an emphatic veto.
The new regime was not thoroughly established at Marshall Field & Co.”s until three young men were sent home to dress again a short time ago.
The bicycle craze has run the usual course in this district. At first the riders were few and the number of those who were willing to risk their lives and limbs in the downtown district was comparatively small. Their employers were disposed to be liberal, and the bikes soon began to find space in odd corners in offices, under stairways, and beside the boilers in the basement.
The inconvenience was borne with until the golf craze followed and gave the wheelmen a new garment, which remodeled the old “clips” for the trousers antiquated. Sweaters followed as a matter of course when the riders became imbued with the spirit of the road and declined to allow themselves to be passed by anything except railroad trains without a struggle. White shirts and stiff collars did not look well after exercise of this character.
Hints Effective in Some Cases.
When the evolution was completed and the salesmen began to arrive for duty clad from head to toe in road costume, hints began to drop that it did not look well for salesmen to wait on costumers dressed in an unusual manner.
“While we are in the bicycle business to a certain extent,” the merchants said, “we also handle dry goods, and do not think all the salesmen ought to advertise one department.”
These hints were effective with some of the wheeling employes, but only partially so with others.
As early as last summer the permissibility of sweaters and Scotch stockings became a question on Fifth avenue, Market and Franklin streets. Drastic measures were not resorted to, and after a time first knee breeches and then sweaters made their reappearance from time to time until cold weather.
At the beginning of this season the number of wheelmen was found to be nearly doubled and the interference with business occasioned by the accumulating wheels and abbreviated costumes was sensibly felt. More emphatic hints were dropped on the subject, followed later by warnings.
Three Clerks Sent Home.
“If you have on bike clothes again you will not be admitted to the house,” was a final warning directed by Joseph Girard, usher in Marshal Field & Co.’s place, to the more persistent offenders.
One day three young salesmen who have been leaving their wheels and “bike” clothes at a friendly “bike” stable tarried on the road longer than they thought and had no time to make the change. They determined to run the gantlet. One by one they passed Mr. Girard’s desk and they were sent back home. Since then long trousers and white shirts have had exclusive possession of the field.
Another edict was issued in this establishment four weeks ago. It forbids wheelmen from bringing their machines into the store. They had been allowed to store them where they could find space for them and were accustomed to roll them in and out the main entrance. Sometimes they were muddy and women came to grief on their account., especially at noon and at the closing hour. Now the cyclists must find storage elsewhere. A Quincy street restaurant has set the pace by giving free storage.
Rules at Other Stores.
Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co. had a somewhat similar experience with cycling costumes. They never allowed wheels to be stored on the premises.
The John V. Farwell company has set apart a room in the basement, with an entrance on the alley, for the use of the wheelmen. They furnished it themselves and employ one of the porters to take care of the wheels. The man arrives half an hour before working hours and is on hand at noon until all the wheelmen are gone in the evening to check the vehicles in and out. At present none of the salesman in this house appears in bicycle costume, though some of those in the clerical departments who do not come in contact with customers and the general public perform their duties dressed for the road, especially on Saturday, and nothing is said about it
Chicago Tribune April 10, 1900
DECLINE OF THE BICYCLE CRAZE.
Railroad men are congratulating themselves on the decline of bicycling as a fashionable fad. They confess that in the last four or five years the passion for bicycle touring has seriously curtailed their receipts. especially in their summer resort traffic. The general passenger agent of a Chicago—Wisconsin system says the wheel has been costing his line thousands of dollars every season, but he believes that there will be less country touring on wheels this summer and that his road will no longer be troubled with empty trains from this cause.
This official is probably correct in his belief that “the bicycle as a fad died,” but it is also probably true that there will be more wheels in use this than ever before. Bicycle stores are already crowded with anxious customers seeking repairs for their old or new wheels. The wheel has lost none of its popularity, hut its vogue has shifted to another social class. Apparently it is no longer so much “the thing ” in fashionable circles to ride the wheel. Perhaps the automobile is to be the new fad among the comparatively wealthy. The craze for bicycle clubs and for century runs has also abated, and the humped-back scorcher has lost whatever caste he may once have had. Country touring among men in the social swim has probably abated, and the railroad managers are right in surmising that their moneyed patrons are again in a mood to pay carfare.
Nevertheless, it would be an error to imagine that there will be less wheel riding than before. The wheel has come to stay amd the change only placed it on a more solid and legitimate basis. The people who are now riding or preparing to ride the wheel are doing so not because a fad of fashion has decreed it but because they find pleasure, health, or profit in so doing. The great bulk of the riders are people of moderate means, who find the wheel a valuable and fascinating means for getting fresh air and a glimpse of the country without much expense. The bicycle manufacturers have wisely sought and secured the patronage of this great public by making wheels at reasonable prices. In spite of the doubling of prices of steel, the best of last year’s model are now built and sold for $5 less a year ago. The bicycle is now practically within reach of everybody, and, while the change in its clientele may benefit the railroads, it is likely to be felt adversely by the street car companies.
The men and women of all classes of society who have any independence and who like wheel riding for its own sake vill continue to indulge in this fine and healthful modern sport, both in the city and in the .country. These are not the “scorchers,” and all true lovers of the wheel will probably be as glad as the railroad men that the fashionable craze among the intemperate has waned.
Lakeview Bicycle Cub, Orchard Street, 1890
Chicago mayor Carter Harrison and his bicycle built for ten during the 1890’s bike craze.
Behind Mr. Harrison are seated Si Mayer (President of the Automobile Club of Illinois), William C. Malley, Robert G. Fisher, William H. Arthur, and Granville W. Browning, attorneys; George K. Bennett; Ed McNeil, broker; Charles P. Root and Alderman James B. Bowler.
Chicago Tribune July 17, 1904
The invulnerable law of cause and effect offers a logical though Indefinite explanation of the success of scores of business enterprises which, though money making ventures today, looked like hopeless wrecks a few years ago. This statement applies particularly to the automobile industry with its countless tributaries, There are perhaps more vi,ctims of circumstances in the automobile business today than in any other one line conspicuous by reason of its popularity with the general public, Whatever else may be said about the automobile, however much it may grate upon the sensibilities of the plodding pedestrian or offend the dignity of the adamant park policeman it must be given the credit for having come to the relief of a great number of stagnant and dying industries, infusing them with new life.
It is estimated that fully 80 per Cent of the engaged In the automobile busines, or the many side lines that go to make it, were following the fate of the bicycle during the days of the wheel. This does not apply alone to dealers, but to manufacturers. both of the automobile as a whole and its composite parts. Practically every big concern which came to the fore when bIcycles were high in favor has turned its machinery to the manufacture of automobiles. Many of them continue to manufacture wheels, but the tourIng car or the runabout stands far to the front, and the bicycle, once a leader, occupies tho position of a side line. As a matter of fact the automobIle was the saving factor in the of the manufacturer, agent, and salesman. The lInes naturally call for something of the same energy and the and for this reason the automobile opened an avenue to the dealer in bicycles just at a time when it began to look as though he was down and out.
Take a walk Chicago’s automobile center, down Michigan avenue from Twelfth to Sixteenth, and you will observe on the shop windows the names of dozens of men who were as conspicuously with the bicycle trade a year ago. They were naturally buffeted into the automobile business. The new industry came at a time when the bicycle was a dead issue. It had outlived its usefulness so far as the fad loving, novelty seeking American public was concerned. Men who had their invested in bicycle machinery and material naturally looked with alarm upon the situation and were at a loss which way to turn until the automobile began to take hold of the public. Then the problem solved itself and made producers out of bicycle dealers.
Thomas B. Jeffrey’s Rambler was introduced in the 1902 Automobile Show. The Rambler was the most popular auto developed in Chicago. More than 4.2 million were sold between 1902 and their discontinuance in 1969 by the successor American Motors Corporation. As the twentieth century ended, the Rambler factory in Kenosha was used to build engines for Chrysler Corporation autos.
In considering new industries opened up by the progressive strides of the automobile, which has become of such general use as no longer to belong to the classification of novelties, the rejuvenation of old industries to rank first in the matter of importance. This is true because the craze came to the rescue of men who already had their money invested in a industry and who were unable to stem the tide of public fickleness for a pastime of which it had grown tired. It was only natural that the bicycle industry should become affiliated with with the production of automobiles and it was also natural that the men who followed the fortunes of the wheel should become the first and most ardent exponents of the touring car.
The prevalence of bicycle men in the automobile business is manifest in every branch of the trade from the big manufacturer down to the small machinist whose convenient shop used to be the boon of unlucky wheelmen. Where in years gone by we saw the bicycle repair shop we now find the garage, which may be small for the accommodation of a few machines or large and pretentious, embodying all sorts of conveniences for the automobilist. The garage is one of the really important industries made possible, in fact a necessity, by the automobile. There are scores of these stabling scattered about Chicago. They have sprung up on all sides of the city within the last two years. The man who owns an automobile pays so a month to have his machine stabled and taken care of. The garage is so essentially indispensable that it is sure to develop into one of the most inclusive industries developed by the automobile.
Perhaps no of class of manufacturers profited more handsomely by the advent of the automobile, than the big rubber concerns where tires are made. The passing of the bicycle was in reality a good thing for them, because It opened a field far more extensive and embracing much greater possibilIties. The automobile tire Is one of the really important features of the machIne. It must be strong and of high grade. For this reason there Is every chance for the manufacturer to produce expert workmanship, a condition not always possible in the small, light tire used on the bicycle.
Just as the automobile revived the business of the bicycle dealer, so did it affect the tire maker. The large concerns which practically controlled the tire output during the days of the wheel found themselves wIth little outlet for their product after the decline of the bicycle. Then came the breath of the automobile craze, and with common instinct they shifted the character of their output until today the firms which supplied most of the bicycle tires occupy the same position in relation to the automobile.
After the automobile as a pIece of machinery in form is discussed, the business becomes largely a matter of incidentals, with an innumerable of numbers of angles. The fad lies opened up an entirely new avenue to the small machinist, who finds a shop along some much frequented highway a paying proposition. Then It has developed the chauffeur, the much abused individual who operates the steering gear and is supposed to regard all speed laws and regulations with absolute disdain. The chauffeur is in reality a luxury. but he goes well with the automobIle.
It has been pointed out by real estate men that among the industries developed by the automobile the opening of land tracts at distant from the city must not be overlooked. They say that the practical elimination of distance makes outlying property more likable to men who own machines and that they have felt the effect of the automobile in numerous ways.
So it is with the manufacturer of of all sorts, from big lens equipped gas to the small oil light. Every automobile carry lights after dark. Some of thens carry five or six, and this has a tendency to make the lighting branch of thie automobile industry an important one. Several manufacturing firms have sprung up, the sole output of which is automobile lamps.
On down the list of incidentals identified with the automobile industry any number of articles will be found, each of which represents is practically a new industry or the development of an old one. Manufacturers of men’s and women’s clothing have kept pace with evolution and have found garments for a profitable addition to their stocks.
Inter Ocean, December 1, 1907
Judging from the number of Christmas bicycles that have been sold for the past few years, one might imagine that our climate is changing, and what once was regarded solely as a summer sport, has, unaccountably, wandered into other portions of the calendar.
But the fact is, there is scarcely a week in the year, even in the most northerly tier of states, when a bicycle cannot be used to good advantage, and perhaps grown folks had to wait until more youthful riders proved the case. However that may be, it is certainly true that all the year ’round riding is decidedly more common in these days, and a bicycle at Christmas time is now regarded as a most appropriate—and even timely—gift.
Riders of tender years are not worried greatly concerning fads and fashions. They know in their honest young hearts that a bicycle is a possession to be enjoyed and cherished. And they accept it for the good it can give, and think no more about it.
That is the reason, no doubt, that where one wheel was sold at Christmas time a few years ago, hundeds are sold today.
But there has been a great change for the better, even in juvenile wheels. While it was once thought, apparently, that any sort of bicycle would do, if it were to go to a youthful rider, makers with good judgement now realize that a wheel that must carry a youngster with safety, must be the equal in every particular of whose made for adults. And this is the case with the product of many manufactories today. In fact, makers take care to explain that their juvenile wheels, in material, workmanship and equipment, be as good or better than those intended for stronger and more experienced riders.
In this connection, it is only just to say that there seems to be no longer a division of the year into seasons for adult wheelmen. All the months are about the same to them, now-a-days. The bicycle plays so important a part of everyday life, is so great an economizer of money and time, and pays such royal dividends in health, digestion and good humor, that its devotees snap their fingers at fashion—or rather, are bringing fashion to the wheel again.
Those who have not paid any special attention to the remarkable renewal of interest in wheeling during the past half decade, will be astonished to know how the production of bicycles, both iun this country and abroad, is increasing. In 1904 the output in America was conservatively estimated at 200,000 bicycles, and this doubtless marked extreme ebb tide in the industry. Certainly the figures were lower than they had been since the early nineties. The increase in 1905 was, approximately, 100,000 wheels, and this was more than doubled in 1906, when the total production was put at half a million. The aggregate for 1907 is said to have reached 750,000, and a leading maker has just announced that the American production of bicycles for 1908 will reach a round million!
And after all, why not? The wheel of today is a vastly better machine than its predecessor of a dozen years ago, costs less money and with the modern accessory, the coaster brake, has actually more basis for popularity.
So, when all has been said, there are plenty of reasons for adding bicycles, both juvenile and adult, to your Christmas list. You will be in good company, for the Christmas sales this year, if one may judge from the forecasts of the dealers, are likely to break all records.
Sears Roebuck and Co
Sears Roebuck and Co
1914 Bicycle Catalogue
Chicago Daily News
June, 1915 Rail Strike Solution
MAJOR CHICAGO BICYCLING EVENTS.
The last sanctioned League of American Wheelmen high wheel race was the International LAW meet in Chicago on August 7, 1893. Photograph was taken at South Side Park.
On August,10, 1893, the Columbian Exposition held “Wheelmen Day” as over 600 members of the League of American Wheelman Club paraded through the White City.
The Inter Ocean, January 5, 1896
The Second Annual Bicycle Show
16th and Dearborn Streets
Program for the Eleventh Annual Chicago Road Race (May 31, 1897)
Bicycle parade on South Michigan Avenue, looking north,May 1897
1 The Referee and Cycle Trade Journal was published in Chicago from 1892-1897.