Road Map of the Country Around New York (1895)

Bicycles were another significant late nineteenth-century innovation in urban and local transportation, but different in kind from omnibuses and trolleys, as they were overwhelmingly used for personal transportation, much as the automobile would be in the twentieth century. Herein lay their appeal. Though bicycles could be and were used for journeys to work and for errands about town, they were mostly promoted as an appealing form of recreation. Bicycle clubs sprang up all over the United States during the 1880s and 1890s. They appealed especially to middle-class and professional urbanites, to whom bicycles offered a new form of weekend escape to the countryside. A new type of map, the bicycle road map, was developed to support this hobby. Many were published by the bicycle clubs for the use of their members, but established cartographic firms, like Rand McNally, also published them. This map of greater metropolitan New York City is typical of the genre. Note that in addition to noting “good roads” (those that would be most suitable for bicycle travel) it plots out the metropolitan rail network. Cyclists often used to local railroads and trolleys to quickly and easily reach suburban or exurban locations to then bike at their leisure. Rand McNally made sure to include on the map a large portion of the highlands of northern New Jersey, which were especially attractive to recreational cyclists.



Akerman, James R. Akerman, James R. “Blazing a Well-worn Path: Cartographic Commercialism, Highway Promotion, and Automobile Tourism in the United States, 1880-1930.” Cartographica 30 (1993) 1: 10-20.

Tobin, Gary Allan. “The Bicycle Boom of the 1890s: The Development of Private Transportation and the Birth of the Modern Tourist.” Journal of Popular Culture 7 (1974): 838-49.

Road Map of the Country Around New York (New York; Chicago: Rand, McNally & Co., 1895). The Newberry Library, map6F G3804.N4A1 1895 .R3