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.
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.
Bird’s Eye View Showing the Bicycle Route Through Chicago’s Parks and Boulevards
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.
Chicago Bicyclists on a Nicholson Paved Road.1
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.
1 Nicolson Pavement was an early method of paved roads which was easier on horses’ feet.