When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.
— Arthur Conan Doyle, "Cycle Notes", Scientific American, Jan. 18, 1896
Known also as the "velocipede,” “hobby-horse,” “draisine” and “running machine, the bicycle as we know it evolved throughout the nineteenth century. What started at the hands of German baron Karl von Drais -- who in 1817 created an awkward two-wheeled contraption with padded saddle and armrest -- grew eventually into not only a viable form of transportation, but a highly popular pastime, thanks to several ambitious inventors on both sides of the Atlantic. W. K. Clarkson, Jr. of New York earned a U.S. patent for a new and improved velocipede on June 26, 1819. Clarkson is credited for making the first bicycle in the United States. However, not much is known about the patent itself, for its record was destroyed by a fire at the U.S. Patent Office some fifteen years later. Bike enthusiasts and others continue to marvel at the mystery of the bicycle's revolutionary design, from the unicycle, to the pennyfarthing, tricycle to safety cycle, quadracycle to pedal cycle, racing cycle to electric bike.
The following articles are drawn from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning.
- Some Bicycle History: Rise and Fall Of Hobby Horses and the Volocipedic Craze Riding Schools Popular Years Ago. (1896, Jan 19). New York Times (1857-1922)
- History Of the Wheel: Something About the Bicycle, Is Ancient and Modern From a Plaything Of the Gods To a Means Of Locomotion For the Mechanic--An Interesting Sketch Of How the Modern Bicycle Was Developed. (1896, Apr 12). The Nashville American (1894-1910)
- Antiquity Of the Bicycle Idea and Its Subsequent Development: It Has Taken Nearly a Century To Evolve the Wheel As It Is. (1896, Oct 04). San Francisco Chronicle (1869-Current File)
- Few Bicycle Patents: Sign That Craze For Wheel-Ing Is On the Decline. (1902, Aug 17). The Washington Post (1877-1922)
- Renaissance Of Bicycling Recalls Former Glory: Recurrent Popularity Has Marked Long History Of Two-Wheeling. Sudden Renaissance Of Bicycling Recalls Its Glory Of Former Days. (1933, Oct 15). The Washington Post (1923-1954)
- Keasbey, W.P. (1940, Jul 25). Did You Ever Wonder: Why Early Bicycles Had Such Large Front Wheels? The Christian Science Monitor (1908-Current File)
- Sturdy Bicycle Got Off To a Slow, Bumpy Start. (1955, Jun 26). The Washington Post and Times Herald (1954-1959)
- Rozario, V. G. (1960, Aug 07). The Evolution Of the Bicycle. The Times of India (1861-Current)
- Conray, S.B (1971, Jul 18). The Very Best Is a Clean Machine: Form and Function. The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973)
- Don't Frighten the Horses. (1978, Apr 29). The Guardian (1959-2003)
- Guroff, Margaret. The Mechanical Horse: How the Bicycle Reshaped American Life. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2016. e-book
- Hadland, Tony, Hans-Erhard Lessing, Nicholas Clayton, and Gary W. Sanderson Bicycle Design: An Illustrated History. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2014. e-book
- Hallenbeck, Sarah. Claiming the Bicycle: Women, Rhetoric, and Technology in Nineteenth Century America. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2015. e-book
- McCullough, Robert L. Old Wheelways: Traces of Bicycle History on the Land. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2015. e-book
- Tatarsky, Daniel. The Splendid Book of the Bicycle: From Boneshakers to Bradley Wiggins. London: Pavilion Books, 2016. e-book
- Detail Of GL00-SB04-FC00-0075, from the Students of Arthur Wesley Dow Collection, Courtesy of Teachers College, Columbia University
- Special News Slide, Courtesy of the Gottesman Libraries
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