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May 26, 2014

Vintage Photos of Chicago's Cycling Craze

It was 1896, the pinnacle of America’s first cycling craze, and Chicago was caught up in the excitement over these new “noiseless steeds.” Then as now, bicycles jostled with other modes of transportation, vying for supremacy.

These, as well as many other wheels of every vintage, took part in a huge parade of more than 6,000 cyclists celebrating Bicycle Day at the Chicago World's Fair on August 21, 1934. Other events scheduled were a team relay race for the American Championship, a five-mile race, and a race for old time bike champions. Left to right are Robert Van Deventer, Helen Trudel, and Allen Blair of the cast of Wings of A Century, and Louise Lindsay of the Cycle Trades of America exhibit, circa Aug. 10, 1934. — Chicago Tribune historical photo

Endurance bicyclists were all the rage in 1930, including Victor Preisinger, 15, of 5009 S. Artesian Ave., who is pedaling until his bike wears out. The ice cream cone he is eating came as a tribute from one of his fans, circa July 16, 1930. — Chicago Tribune historical photo

Hubert K. Oram, of 213 N. Menard in the Austin neighborhood, with his old-fashioned bike on July 3, 1928. The pedals were mounted on the huge front wheel of early bicycles. — Chicago Tribune historical photo

Gilbert Livingston, Bradley Clarkson, Billy Sheahan (on bike), Bud Forbes, and Edwin Orr, circa July 23, 1930, in Chicago. — Chicago Tribune historical photo

Edward Schmidt hands endurance bike rider George Hoffman a paper bag while Hoffman rode on the 4900 block of S. Artesian, in Chicago, circa 1930. — Chicago Tribune historical photo

Ray and Geraldine Hudson, on their bikes at 3738 Tuella Avenue, circa May 21, 1937. The Hudson's were dancers in a cabaret program at the Bon-Air Country Club near Wheeling, with acrobatic dances being their specialty. They were called "The Hudson Wonders." — Chicago Tribune historical photo

Heinz Vopel, left, of Dortmund, Germany, and Gerard Debaets, of Belgium, ride in front of the field which started a six-day race at the Chicago Stadium on Feb. 12, 1939. Two weeks before, Vopel fractured his left wrist during a race in Cleveland. A dozen teams started the six-day race. — Chicago Tribune historical photo

While their more experienced rivals in the six-day bicycle race at the Coliseum have been tumbling all over the track this week, Bill Jacoby, left, and Ed Carfagnini, a team of Chicago's youngsters, have maintained their equilibrium through the hardest jams. In this picture, Carfagnini is giving Jacoby a push as the latter takes over for the team. The race will end at midnight tonight on Jan. 30, 1942. Carfagnini, who worked in a Chicago bicycle factory, was a distance racer who won national titles and turned professional in 1941. — Chicago Tribune historical photo

Ted Smith, of Buffalo, N.Y., Tom Montemage, also of Buffalo, and Richard Olda, of St. Louis, finished first, second, and third respectively in the senior men's 5 mile bicycle race at Humboldt Park on Aug. 18, 1945. There was a spill in the race involving 12 cyclists, seven of whom received hospital treatment. Smith, 17, won the 17th national amateur bicycle race held by the Amateur Bicycle League of America. — Chicago Tribune historical photo

Bike racer Bill Jacoby was an amateur racer in the 1940s and a regular six-day racer in the 1950s. Jacoby, along with teammate and fellow Chicagoan Ed Carfagnini, won many races at the Humboldt Park bicycle bowl during the 1940s. Jacoby's last race was in 1958. — Handout

This group of riders was eager to start Chicago's first post-war six-day bike marathon of the year on April 28, 1946, at the Coliseum in Chicago. From left are Cocky O'Brien, Charley Logan, Val Melchiori, Tom Saetta, and Cesare Moretti, photographed on April 26, 1946. — Chicago Tribune historical photo

Bike racing could be a dangerous sport, with narrow windows of opportunity for taking the lead. Many crashes and injuries would occur, like during this race with Bill Jacoby in the 1940s. — Chicago Tribune historical photo

Remember the good old days when there was a bike under the Christmas tree? Photo circa 1946. — Chicago Tribune historical photo

After an absence of ten years from Chicago, the six-day bike race was back on March 25, 1957, at the International Amphitheater in Chicago. — Ed Feeney, Chicago Tribune

The new American-made lightweight bicycle is advertised to be the answer to the ever-growing demand of many teenagers and adults for a so-called "racer" or "touring" two-wheeler in 1953. — Chicago Tribune historical photo

The Lake View Cycling Club in front of its clubhouse at 401-403 Orchard Street (address is on the old numbering system) in the 1890s. — Chicago History Museum

American teammates Freddie Spencer, left, and Bobby Walthour Jr., right, competed in the six-day bicycle race at the Coliseum in Chicago starting on Jan. 8, 1928. The Tribune called Walthour "one of the best known six-day bike racers in the world." The American team came in second place. Photo circa Jan. 7, 1928. — Chicago Tribune historical photo

Fannie Ellen, from left, Lillian Dushell, Anita Conier and Guy Hickman with old-fashioned bikes in Lincoln Park, circa July 28, 1936. — Chicago Tribune historical photo

Allen Sebald, of 5156 Dakin, is driving Hendrickson, of 5240 Warner, in Chicago, circa 1930. — Chicago Tribune historical photo

A man rides a Victorian-era bicycle in Chicago, circa July 6, 1947. — Chicago Tribune historical photo

Mr. and Mrs. Wilbur Fredrick, of Huntley, Ill., on a tandem bike they rode in the town's centennial parade the day before, circa Aug. 26, 1951. — Chicago Tribune historical photo

Joseph Fuller, of 238 Ash St. in Waukegan, reverts to this mid-Victorian bicycle to help get votes for Frank McManaman, candidate for alderman from the Fourth Ward, circa Feb. 25, 1931. — Chicago Tribune historical photo

A woman on a Victorian-era bicycle on July 17, 1922 in Chicago. — Chicago Tribune historical photo

Early bicyclist, circa 1885. — Chicago Tribune historical photo

Bike racer Bill Jacoby was an amateur racer in the 1940s and a regular six-day racer in the 1950s. Jacoby, along with teammate and fellow Chicagoan Ed Carfagnini, won many races at the Humboldt Park bicycle bowl during the 1940s. Jacoby's last race was in 1958. — Handout

Tillie Anderson Shoberg wears a costume worn by women cyclists in the early 1890s. Shoberg was known as "Tillie the Terrible Swede." An immigrant from Sweden, Tillie was known as the best female bicyclist in the late 1800s. She competed until 1902 when the League of American Wheelmen banned women from racing. Photo circa Aug. 27, 1935. — Chicago Tribune historical photo

People gather to watch a bicycle race in the community of Englewood in Chicago, circa 1897. — H. R. Abbott photo

The Chicago & North Western railroad station with the Mead Cycle Company, right, across the street in Chicago between 1909 and 1920. — Library of Congress

An early bicycle, called a velocipede, circa Oct. 10, 1911. — Chicago Tribune historical photo

(via Chicago Tribune)

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