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First Bicycles Built in America

The bicycle is “a money and time saving proposition. It appeals so strongly to the hundreds of thousands of working people who are making practical use of it every day in riding to and from work.” That was how the bicycle was described in the Pope Manufacturing Company’s 1912 Columbia Bicycles catalog which can be found in the Trade Literature Collection at the National Museum of American History Library. 

Pope Manufacturing Company of Hartford, Connecticut began manufacturing bicycles in 1878 which was one year after the company was organized. Columbia Bicycles were the first bikes built in America.

By 1912, bicycles were being used for different purposes. Some people wanted to ride bikes just for fun. Others wanted to ride their bicycles to work. The “Pope Daily Service” was meant for those who needed a bike for “everyday hard, practical use.” It cost $40.00 and was more durable than the average bike. For those who wanted to race, there was the “Columbia Racer” which cost $50.00. And for children who wanted their bicycle to look like an adult’s bike, there was the “Fay.” It was “a reproduction of the high grade adults’ bicycle” and, as of 1912, was the highest selling juvenile bicycle.—Alexia MacClain


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