Plainfield Public Library
Introduction 1800-1890 Burgeoning Beyond Highlights
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A bicycling craze took Plainfield by storm with people riding Velocipedes and the more recognizable two wheel version popular today. Bicycles were used for entertainment and work.

WHEELING AROUND THE "QUEEN CITY"

Leisure transportation and sport in the Gay Nineties gave the town a new look. The bicycling craze took Plainfield by storm in 1876 after the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition where the cycle was featured. Young men at first rode cycles and gathered in "Wheelman's Clubs" to race competitively. The first bicycle in New Jersey was dangerous having a five-foot high front wheel and a one foot high rear wheel.

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The Safety bike with two 30" wheels was invented in 1885. Starley made history when he produced the Rover Safety Bicycle-a rear-wheel-drive, chain driven cycle with two similar-sized wheels, making it more stable. Additional changes and improvements continued including air-filled tires rather than solid rubber. Soon a bike with a tilted front was designed for women with full skirts.

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