Showing posts with label newspaper articles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label newspaper articles. Show all posts

Saturday, August 26, 2017

"The Almighty Bicycle" (in 1896)


The Almighty Bicycle - The Most Startling, Sudden and Powerful Influence Ever Known in the History of Trade - article from the New York Journal from the summer of 1896, the height of the 1890s "bicycle craze."

The Almighty Bicycle - The Most Startling, Sudden and Powerful Influence Ever Known in the History of Trade.  (June 1896 article)
"Infographic" illustrating the growth in bicycle cycles from 1891 to 1896

From the text of the very long article:
IN all the wonder story of commerce and money dealings from the days of the Phoenicians there is no chapter so astounding as that which tells of the bicycle. A toy, it has overturned the trade of nations within the compass of five fleeting years. Serious people laughed at it and called the folk who rode it today those same serious people have recalled their capital from world-wide enterprises and started it anew In the bicycle business to save'themselves from commercial shipwreck. The whirring of these cobweb wheels has been like the spider's spinning - silent, wonderful. Fortunes have been made as if by magic.

The facts and figures are appalling. Commerce, for all its keen vision, can not read them aright. Five years ago, in this whole wide country, not 60,00Q bicycles were made or sold, and the solid, stolid business men made mock of the Mark the change. In this year of grace and pneumatic tires, four-fifths of a million of wheels be marketed in the United States alone. The leaders in the bicycle trade say that an average price for these machines us $80. Multiply. There will have been spent this year in the United States alone, for bicycles. The world is bicycle mad.

The article is quite long, but the suggestion is that the popularity of bicycles and the amount of money spent on bicycles by consumers caused a fall in other products, including from the sale of horses to cigars and jewelry.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Bicycle Messengers of 100+ Years Ago

The Fast Flying Bike Messenger

From http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1908-08-23/ed-1/seq-43/
Evening Star newspaper. (Washington, D.C.), 23 Aug. 1908. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress.
In Washington, a city of few hills and with asphalt streets and but little congestion, the messenger boy prefers to ride a bicycle to the more ancient but slower method of walking. The bicycle boy, if he is working by the "piece," of course, makes more money than his rival on foot, so that the spirit of emulation drives many messengers to save enough money to purchase wheels, so consequently they have no money to spend on novels.
From an odd article about what messengers in Washington DC read.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Profane Parrot Cyclist of 1896 (Human Interest Journalism)

The Sunday edition of the New York Journal of the late 1890s ran 40 pages or more, which was a lot of space to fill for a newspaper of that time. Some of the space was filled with human interest stories associated with fashionable or trendy topics of the moment, such as cycling. Below is a reasonably typical example, going on at considerable length about not very much.

It seems from other articles that at least at this point in the "bicycle craze" the New York Journal was not in favor of women wearing bloomers, so perhaps the paragraph (indicated in bold text below) is more an expression of the point of view of the publication and not just the parrot.

A Profane Parrot that Rides a Bicycle

A BICYCLIST parrot Is a conspicuous figure of life on the Boulevard and other uptown thoroughfares which are given up to the riders of the wheel. Everybody Is to be seen on a bicycle nowadays: old women, old men, babies and so forth. It is, therefore, not surprising that a parrot should make his appearance, for no creature could be more active, gay and sociable.

But this particular bird deserves mention for other reasons than the mere fact that he rides a bicycle. His conversational eccentricities are the amusement and the terror of the bicycling community.

The bird's full name is Don Cesar, and his owner Is J. J. Walsh, of No. 490 Sixth avenue, who tells endless stories of the indiscretions of the bird.

The Parrot that Rides a Bicycle

Do not expect to hear that Don Cesar turns the pedals of a bicycle himself by any means. Even If that were possible he is too averse to hard work to consent to any such arrangement. When he wants exercise he takes it on the wing, but the tongue is the member which he chiefly loves to agitate.

He perches in the middle of the handle-bars, on the spot where some enthusiastic bicyclists place their babies. There he stands and vociferates and scratches himself. Now and then he ducks his head down to see how the front wheel is going. It Is a wonder that he has never punctured the tire and dislocated his beak, but that has not happened yet.

Occasionally he leaves the handle-bars and takes a fly into the air. For a parrot he is a good flyer. Having taken a view of the crowd, of the river, or whatever may be in sight, he returns faithfully to the wheel. Mr. Walsh slackens his speed slightly when the bird goes flying.

Don Cesar Is a green and red parrot of South American birth. At one time he belonged, like most parrots, to a seafaring man. During that period of his career he visited the principal ports of the world and learned at least four different languages. These languages consist chiefly of profanity.

It brings prosperity to have a parrot on board ship, just as it means means certain misfortune to have a black cat. Once Don Cesar was left ashore in a saloon in Rio Janeiro by a thoughtless mariner. The ship had weighed anchor, but a deputation of seamen, having represented the gravity of the situation to the captain, the longboat was manned and Don Cesar was rescued. When he was safe on board he swore with such vigor that every one was satisfied that he would have brought evil to the ship If he had stayed ashore.

One of the most dangerous things a sea man can do is to give away a parrot who has learned nautical ways. But Mr. Walsh earned the friendship of a sailor to such an extent that he gave him his parrot, Don Cesar, a bird of rare experience. Now, the bird has changed his proud position of mascot on a ship to the equally eminent one of figurehead on a bicycle In the streets of this metropolis.

Don Cesar's favorite languages are Spanish, Italian, French and German. You may hear him almost any evening on the Boulevard carrying on a monologue of this sort: "Noni d'un chlen, veut-tu ficher la pals'?"."Corpo dl Bacco."."Tas d'idlots."."Caramha."."Allez au diable."."Pesta."."Ach du lieber Gott!"."Oh, la, la!"

According to his owner Don Cesar becomes speechless with rage at the sight of a woman in bloomers. He sets up a fierce, hoarse shriek, which he keeps up for several minutes, at the end of which he is in danger of falling off the handle-bars. Evidently he has old-fashioned ideas on the subject of women. He believes that they should stay in petticoats. When they are so attired he is very affable, submitting to have his head scratched, but, sad to relate, he does not relax his profanity.

Don Cesar enjoys bicycling very thoroughly, otherwise he would not go riding. He gets the best part of it, the fresh air and the excitement, without the exertion and the fatigue.

Of course he behaves himself interesting at other times than when he is on the wheel [bicycle].

It is his habit to salute his master when he returns home, at whatever hour this may be. His favorite greeting Is: "Hello, popper! I see you!"

He repeats this a number of times In a very loud voice, accompanying his remarks with a shrill, mocking laugh. This trick used to cause a little embarrassment to Mr. Walsh when the hour of his return was one which he did not wish to have announced to his family and all his neighbors. Any attempt to silence Don Cesar by threats of violence or throwing a cloth over him was met by louder shrieks. Don Cesar proved utterly incorrigible in this respect, and so his owner has become very regular in his hours.
https://www.loc.gov/resource/sn84031792/1896-04-19/ed-1/?sp=38

Croozer Test Ride
https://www.flickr.com/photos/backintheworld/

Nowadays people often use trailers to travel around by bike with their animals - usually dogs, such as this photograph reused from Flickr shows. I don't recall seeing any parrots on handlebars, though. I have thought about having a trailer for my family dog perhaps in a few years when she is a little older and might appreciate it (more).

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Predicting Women's Attire After Bloomers Take Hold (1895)

"The Bicycle Dress" 1895
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82016014/1895-08-16/ed-1/seq-8/

The Topeka State Journal. (Topeka, Kan.), 16 Aug. 1895. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

An illustration in a newspaper in 1895 shows what the future of women's bloomers may be into the 20th century (which then wasn't very far away).

Further down on the page, there is this short article (or more like collection of mostly snarky and contradictory observations):
FAIR DEVOTEES OF CYCLING

Fate has decreed that the bicycle girl in bloomers shall become a spinster, observes the Salt Lake Tribune.

The bloomer gives to a shapely women says the Galveston News, a great opportunity; in fact, two of them.

A Boston girl started on a trip around the globe and before she had gone 1,200 miles she received 85 proposals, she says.

If "equal rights" means anything, it means a man's right to keep out of the way of a woman who is just learning to ride says the New York Mail and Express.

Chief Badenoch of Chicago punishes rowdies who assault women in bloomers. He shows gentlemanly instinct. The question of what is a proper costume for a woman is not to be settled by rowdies on the street.

The women of Osnaburg, O., set their dogs on a Canton wheelwoman because she wore bloomers, says the Cleveland World. The women of a Connecticut town about 40 years ago gave one of their sex an order to leave town when she put on the first hoopskirt they ever saw. In six months they were all wearing them.


Monday, September 5, 2016

All Possible Bike Accessories

"All possible accessories"
A bike of 1896 shown equipped with all possible accessories

www.loc.gov/resource/sn84031792/1896-05-10/ed-1/?sp=50
Title-The journal, May 10, 1896
Place of Publication-New York [N.Y.]
Library of Congress
"I wonder what a bicycle would look like equipped with all the accessories that are advertised!"

The Wheel has undertaken to gratify the curious. The illustration shows just how a wheel would look under the conditions stated. The picture is not overdrawn. Every accessory that is shown is actually on the market and offered for sale. Enumerated they are as follows: Lamp, bell, pneumatic brake, double handle-bar, canopy, camera, luggage carrier, waterproof cape, watch and watch holder, match box, speed Indicator, cyclometer, fork pump, continuous alarm (on front axle), balancer, cradle spring, child's seat, anatomical saddle, back support, rubber, mud-guards, handle-bar buffer, tool bag, tourists' case, spring pedals, toe clips, portable stand, changeable gear, gear case and temporary tire repairer. Twenty-nine articles in all. The Wheel

Today the possible accessory choices boggle the mind. I happened up the site of a newish bike company that offers as options:

Safety Features

Front/rear lights
Turn Signals
Intuitive brake light
Laser emitted “bike lane”
Front and rear camera
Collision detection

Tech Features

Built-in WiFi Hotspot
USB ports to power devices
Bluetooth Connectivity
GPS and Anti-theft Protection
Centralized Battery System
Power Generation Systems
App supported​

Low Maintenance

Make our bikes “hassle-free”
Belt drive
Less wear than a chain
No oil needed
Internally geared hub
Ease of shifting
No derailleur
No “cross chain” issues
All cables and power sources built into the frame​

Good Lord. I don't think that more complex systems than cars are equipped with (such as laser generated "bike lanes" you provide for yourself) make much sense but I could be wrong about that but I'm absolutely sure front and rear cameras are not safety equipment, they are a tool for assuring better results if you end up in court, and maybe as a way to record some travels for amusement's sake.

I guess Tech Features is to be understood as "distractions for when you are stopped" (or at least most of it). I particularly like "power general systems" in the plural. Whatever.

The low maintenance aspects - well, I guess that there is something to some of that, but there are always tradeoffs - and TANSTAAFL.

Monday, August 29, 2016

First Aid for Injured Wheelmen (the 1896 Advice)

Accidents happen, to all sorts of people, including Sir Richard Branson as well as more regular folks - and have since the first years of cycling. This article's presentation of corrective first aid measures seems pretty intense!

First Aid for Injured Wheelmen
The Journal, May 10, 1896, New York [N.Y.] Library of Congress
www.loc.gov/resource/sn84031792/1896-05-10/ed-1/?sp=46

In the same way with the vast army of bicycle riders. The chance of Injury to any particular person at any particular time is very small, indeed, but when an accident does occur, as with the railroad, we agree In regarding bicycling as a very dangerous sport. The bicycle is new to the human race, but the body, with its nervous system, its heart, its lungs, and all its other organs, is the same old machine. The condition in which a patient is found after a fearful fall from an 1896 model bicycle presents the same symptoms, involves the same principles and calls for the same remedies as if he had been hurled from a chariot In the first century.
The article goes on in considerable detail, which can be read here. Yikes!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Women as Early Bike Commuters

I copied a long first person description of the work of a NYC "bike cop" from 1896 into a blog post, Adventures of NYC "Bike Cop" of 1896.

Towards the end, there is this paragraph:

Teamsters [here meaning the drivers of horse-drawn wagons, the the-equivalent of trucks] make most of our trouble. The manner In which heavy trucks and freight wagons of all kinds swarm to the Boulevard in the morning hours, when there are thousands of cyclists, four out of five of whom are ladies, is most exasperating. On Sunday, when the asphalt is covered with wheel riders, what satisfaction can there be in driving a carriage or buggy into their midst? It looks like sheer contrariness. The hostility shown by many truck and wagon drivers against cyclists is of that mean nature that is found in envy of those who seem to be getting some pleasure out of life.

While the "four out of five" is not a scientific survey, it suggests many women in 1896 were commuting to work by bicycle, since it is doubtful they were out on weekday mornings for some other reason.



This 1899 film of employees leaving a Parke Davis factory in Detroit suggests also that women were bicycle commuters in those pre-automobile days. Presumably most of the manufacturing employees were men and the women in this video (given their attire) were the clerical staff? So their percentage of the total number of commuters is likely relative to their percentage of the number of workers there overall.