One of the First Motorized Tandem Bikes in the City, Circa Early 1900s
Bicycling rose in popularity in the last few decades of the 19th century, leading to many innovations in bike construction. We can see two examples of that innovation here – the extra seat, and the inclusion of a motor. While it is obviously influenced by the design of previous tandem bicycles, calling this a “tandem” might be a bit misleading, since the front passenger here plays no role in powering the bike (note the lack of pedals, brakes, or steering mechanism on the front end). The motor is likely meant to replace the pedaling assistance of the passenger – there are still pedals by the back seat, suggesting the motor plays a supplemental role. This might be thought of as the distant ancestor of the bicycle cabs that still ferry around passengers in Downtown Minneapolis.
The first known example of a functional cycle with more than two wheels was James Starley’s Coventry tricycle, invented in 1876. Starley went on to invent the Salvo quadricycle in 1877, which had two large wheels on either side of the rider’s seat and two small ones to the front and back. The Salvo was enormously popular with the British upper class – Queen Victoria bought two.
The first tandems appeared in the 1870s, and enjoyed a surge in popularity in the 1890s as designs improved. A large part of the tandem’s appeal was the social aspect – it allowed a man and a woman to share a bicycle ride together. There was some debate, however, about whether the lady should ride in the front (where she would occupy the place of honor) or in the rear (where the man could leap from the front seat and protect her from any danger). Either way, it was a popular courting option, as shown by composer Henry Dacre’s popular song “Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built For Two).”
Photograph by Edward A. Bromley, scanned from glass plate negative.
This post was researched and written by Special Collections intern Helen Walden-Fodge. Helen has been working with several archival collections this summer, including the Bromley glass plate negative collection.
Highway Proposed For Kenilworth Corridor….In 1940
Even during the Depression, the growth of automobile traffic surged, leading the Minneapolis Planning Dept to propose a number of new and expanded roadways through and around the city. Among them was a two-lane road with a wide median running from what was then Wayzata Boulevard just North of Kenwood, through the Kenilworth Corridor, connecting to the Lake St/Mtka Blvd/Hwy 7 commons around France avenue.
As is well-known with the current controversy surrounding the SWLRT, the “chain of lakes” presents a considerable physical barrier to accessing the downtown from the southwest. This 1940 report points out that Kenilworth Corridor offers one of the few alternate routes of access. The “Southwest Diagonal Thorofare” was proposed “to intercept traffic from Minnetonka Boulevard and Trunk Highway No. 7 at France Ave., and conduct this traffic into the central business area on a route avoiding West Lake St. and Hennepin Ave,” essentially following the path now planned for the SWLRT.
From A Report on a Survey of Traffic on Major Arterial Streets and Trunk Highways and Recommendations and Plans for the Improvement of Traffic Facilities. City Planning Commission, Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 1, 1940.
In The Stacks with Hans Weyandt: Miniatures
Within the bounty of the Special Collections there is a sub-category that I never figured out how to accurately search for. Through sheer luck I stumbled upon two books in the catalog whose titles intrigued me.
The first is by Mark Twain and its title, The Shame Is Ours, was something I’d never heard of. I figured that I’m no Twain scholar and that it was possible there was another work of his I haven’t read. When I arrived the next morning Bailey had already pulled all of the 25 books I’d requested the previous day. On top of the cart were two small envelopes with call letters written on them. I opened one and found the Twain. It is something that could fit in a jewelry box and, probably, that is where it belongs. It has a basic, speckled, cover with title only. This was toward the last days of the Ferguson, MO disaster. It felt quite right for me to read this little work. It’s not a book in the most basic sense. It’s a letter from Twain to the head of Yale’s Law School informing him that, if Warner T. McGuinn, one of the first African-American students at Yale Law School, was admitted, Twain would cover the expenses. It is a small treatise on race and that we are still, very clearly, struggling with.
The second mini book was a small blue book titled Historic American Flags. It easily fit in the palm of my hand and each image was an old stamp. All of them were pretty—many versions of the Stars and Stripes. My two favorites are probably the First Navy Jack from 1775 that includes the now Tea Party hijacked snake and ‘Don’t Tread On Me’ statement. The second is also from 1775 and is the Washington Cruiser’s flag with a simple evergreen tree and the words ‘An Appeal to Heaven.’
Most of the smaller offerings in Special Collections are scattershot and have no easily recognizable theme. Bailey told me there are a couple hundred of these mini books. I’m glad two found their way to me. I’ll be back to search out more.
Hans Weyandt is currently a writer-in-residence at the Central branch of the Hennepin County Library. Hans has worked at four independent bookstores in St. Paul and Minneapolis over the past 15 years. He is the former co-owner of Micawber’s Books and the editor of “Read This! Handpicked Favorites from America’s Indie Bookstores” published by Coffee House Press. He currently works at Sea Salt Eatery, Moon Palace Books and Big Bell Ice Cream.
Join us at Central library tomorrow at 6:15 pm for a tour of the collection and a conversation with Hans. Visit our Facebook event page for more info.
The world of miniature books. Join us tomorrow at 6:15 for a tour of Special Collections and a conversation with Hans.
Minneapolis Business Trade Cards
Over 300 Minneapolis business trade cards from the Hennepin County Library Special Collections are now available to view in the Minnesota Digital Library. The bulk of the collection dates from the late 19th century and early 20th century and includes a range of businesses, from clothing stores to flour mills.
Wobblies and Robber Barons: An Historical Battle on Minnesota’s Iron Range
Tuesday, Sept. 16, 7-8:30 p.m. Minneapolis Central, RKMC meeting room
Labor Historian Peter Rachleff will discuss the present and the past of Minnesota’s Iron Range in the era of World War I. He will explore the lives and struggles of immigrant miners, their affiliation with the Industrial Workers of the World, their confrontation with Andrew Carnegie and his minions, and their impact on Minnesota’s labor history. Register online or call 612.543.5669
Extraordinary levels of inequality between rich and poor, workers fighting for a living wage, powerful employers busting unions, government crackdowns on immigrants, limitations on the right to vote. Sound familiar? But this is not a talk about today’s economic and political battlefields. Join labor historian Peter Rachleff as he provokes a conversation between the present and the past, the past of Minnesota’s Iron Range in the era of World War I. He will explore the lives and struggles of immigrant miners and their affiliation with the Industrial Workers of the World, popularly known as the Wobblies, in their confrontation with Andrew Carnegie and his minions, and he will trace their impact on Minnesota’s labor history.
Remembering Ralph Rapson
Today, September 13, 2014, is the 100th anniversary of architect Ralph Rapson’s birth. Considered a leader in modern design, Rapson (1914-2008) was head of the University of Minnesota School of Architecture from 1954-1984. His Twin Cities designs include:
- Guthrie Theater, (top right: built 1963, razed 2007) – the first Guthrie Theater, built with Sir Tyrone Guthrie on Vineland Place, Minneapolis
- Rarig Center (center left: built 1972),the performing arts center on the University of Minnesota campus
- Cedar Square West apartments (center right: now Riverside Plaza, built 1973), a mixed income housing unit in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood
- State Capitol Credit Union / Southeast Library (bottom, built 1963) Built as a credit union and converted to Southeast Library in Dinkytown in 1967
- Phillip Pillsbury House in Wayzata (not pictured: 1963, razed 1997), a 9000 square foot house and the first contemporary home built on Lake Minnetonka.
After his retirement from the University of Minnesota, Rapson continued to work full-time as a practicing architect. He was at his drawing board until the day before he died on March 29, 2008, at age 93.
For more photos (including the Pillsbury House) and information on Ralph Rapson, see Linda Mack’s 2008 MinnPost article and the Hennepin County Library catalog.
Letter from the Women’s Club of Minnetonka to Gratia Countryman, Oct. 26, 1921
On October 15, 1921, the Women’s Club purchased the White House Hotel for $15,000. A large room was made ready for a public library to be dedicated in honor of Alice Pierce Bardwell.
The only problem was the Women’s Club, “just hardly [knew] how to proceed” with creating a library. They wrote the head of Minneapolis Public Library (and founder of Hennepin County Library), Gratia Countryman for assistance.
On February 7, 1922 the Hennepin County Free Library moved books, cupboards, tables, chairs and other library essentials without charge from Minneapolis to the former hotel. It was named the Excelsior Branch of the Hennepin County Free Library. Excelsior Library was one of the first branches of the new system. The library remained at 1 Water Street until 1928 when the library was moved to the Masonic Temple Building.
Excelsior Library has returned to Water Street and opens tomorrow at 9 a.m. Join us for the opening at 337 Water Street and share your favorite features of the new building on social media with #ExcelsiorLibrary or #BackToWaterSt
Every Picture Has a Story To Tell
I discovered the following three photographs in this post while working on the East Calhoun Community Organization collection as an intern at the James. K. Hosmer Special Collections Library at the Minneapolis Public Library over the summer of 2014. I have a history with each of these photographs.
1. The first photograph (above) is of Audubon Elementary School in Minneapolis, MN (now called Lake Harriet Lower Elementary School). The photograph was taken at the intersection of 41st and Chowen Ave S. This reference is important for a couple of reasons. First, the house I grew up in is 500 feet from this location, just up an alley to the left of the electrical box in the photograph. Second, my best friend from third grade grew up in a home 75 feet to the right of the electrical box. Third, my best friend from before kindergarten busted his teeth in a bicycle accident on a stop sign on the right side of the crosswalk in the picture (not pictured). David was speeding down the infamous “Audubon Hill” and somehow lost control. The hill is not pictured in this photograph. But it is a steep hill for a kid on a bicycle and fun as heck to cruise down. I remember it as the hill that took Dave’s teeth.
2. I went to Southwest High school from 1984 to 1988. I played in the band during all four years. During my freshmen year the band toured Norway. This photograph was published in the April 1985 issue of the East Calhoun Community Organization newspaper. Standing in the back row is our band instructor Tom Keith. The folks in the back row are wearing T-shirts that say “Ambassadors to Norway” a publicity item used on the tour. I have two of these T-shirts because I participated in that trip to Norway. Seated in the lower left is Hennepin County Sheriff Donald Omodt. His daughter is directly behind him.
3. I started my college course work at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, MN where I played in the Normandale concert band. Daniel Tetzlaff, a music educator (pictured in the back), also played in the Normandale concert band. Mr. Tetzlaff played trumpet. I had numerous cups of coffee with Daniel in the student union after band practice. He was one of the persons who encouraged me to keep music as a hobby versus trying to make a living from it. So I left music studies for the sciences and have not looked back. However, I still play the horn, piano and bass as a hobby. This photograph was published in the May 1985 edition of the East Calhoun Community Organization newspaper.
This post was written by Special Collections intern Edward Steffen Morrow Jr. Edward spent the summer finishing processing the East Calhoun Community Organization Collection, which includes thousands of photographs from the ECCO neighborhood and nearby areas.