[Detail, Blum's Map of California Roads for Cyclists, Big Map Blog]
It looks like today's mania for all thing bicycle may be a replay of the 1890's. We're indebted to our sister site Curbed LA for pointing us in the direction of Blum's 1896 Map of California Roads for Cyclists (will open in a new window,) an exquisitely-drawn map of California surrounded by a border of advertising, via the map-obsessed Big Map Blog, from the days when cyclists shared the road with vehicles powered by steam, electric, internal combustion and horse. It turns out bicycles were madly popular- so much so that at the turn of the 20th century the US Patent Office had to maintain a separate building for bike-related patents. The map itself was most likely standard, with the border space sold to advertisers- cycle dealers, cycle schools, lubricants- and this local version's a window into a booming, pre-earthquake San Francisco. With both bike and rail routes, it's a reminder of a time before Rte. 1. Along with notes on road condition and grade. V.P.M. being "Very Poor Mountainous", this map will take you from Santa Monica to Chico.
· Blum's Map of California Roads for Cyclers [Big Map Blog]
· 19th Century California Bike Routes Weren't Too Shabby [Curbed LA]
· Bicycle History [Jim Langley]