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Cycle Cops: 1918

Cycle Cops: 1918

Washington, D.C., 1918. "District of Columbia parks -- park policemen." Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.


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My legs are itching from the sight of those wool leggings! How hot they must have been. But they look so proud! Love the photo.


These guys could take their coats and hats off when off duty and they would be ready for the golf course in those outfits. I wonder when fenders for bikes appeared.

My ancestors

They did not get the official title of U.S. Park Police until 1919 (they were Park Watchmen) but were called Park Police since the 1880's.

I'll see if I can get some names for these fellows.


The sergeant has a bell and a speedometer mounted on this handlebars. Ting-a-ling, ting-a-ling. Do you know how fast you were walking, sir? It's four miles an hour in the park, sir.

Bicycle Cops

The cycle on the left has what appears to be a speedometer affixed to his two wheeler, maybe that's so they can check the speed of prams and strollers through the park. Do they self-siren, I wonder. Are the white gloves for checking the cleanliness of the park benches?

Maybe their gartered trouser legs are more for keeping their pants dry while tiptoeing through the tulips than stopping snag ups in their bike chains.

I can only imagine what a modern day bike may look like, scabbard down the fork tubes for a long weapon, flashing lights mounted across the handle bars, saddle bags for EMT gear (and their lunch of course) and a whippy aerial with a hi-vis flag attached.

Enjoyed this image and was amazed at the history of the Park Police.

The original bike cops

I am always tickled at the many examples of practices and ideas that have been introduced in recent times as "innovative" and new, that have precedents.

Where'd they go?

We could really use these policemen in this day and age around Rock Creek Park.

Tread direction

The treads on the front tires are oriented differently for each bike. I never know which way is right, and it looks like these guys might not either.

Still around

These fellows are members of the U.S. Park Police, the nation's oldest law enforcement agency.

The Park Police were established in 1791 by George Washington as "park watchmen" to patrol parks in the then-new District of Columbia, and have been on active duty ever since -- 220 years.

Today they're a unit of the Department of the Interior, National Park Service, with jurisdiction in all Park Service areas and certain other federal and state lands. Park Police units are primarily assigned to the Washington D.C area and the expansive urban parks adjacent to San Francisco and New York City.

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