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Bike to the Future: 1910

Bike to the Future: 1910

Bustling Jacksonville, Florida, circa 1910. "Forsyth Street looking east from Hogan." As in the previous view, the Post Office is at left, Hotel Seminole on the right. Note the city-issued JACKSONVILLE license plates. 8x10 inch glass negative, Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.


Lost World

All the men appear well-dressed and the few women rather elegant, even seen at a distance. To state the obvious, it's an entire civilization now gone forever.

Hats Off

Another wonderful scene full of hats.

Hats served many practical and useful purposes.

Tipping your hat slightly to signal a greeting.
Holding your hat to your chest to signal respect or mourning; during national anthem or funeral for example.
Waving your hat above your head to signal farewell or joy; at a parade or ship departure for example.
Holding your hat in one hand in front of you while bowing; an extended and respectful greeting with maximum effect.
Removing your hat while sitting in a movie theatre or church; another signal that you respect the environment and other participants.

Society lost some useful social skills when hats stopped being worn by everyone.

In reply to HaroldO

The Wright Flyer (which made the first powered, manned and sustained flight in 1903) also used bicycle technology, as in sprocket and chain drive to the propellers. The Wright Brothers had been involved in bicycle, motors and machinery manufacture.

Easy Commute

Mr. Joseph Fried (1861-1930), proprietor of the Rathskeller (117 West Forsyth), resided at 221 East Adams, a mere four blocks away. The 1910 city directory lists two phone numbers for the Rathskeller, 196 and 2637.

Facing facts

JamesWH's chronology seems thoroughly consistent with what must be the best evidence available ... the P.O. clock: in the earlier (presented on Shorpy) picture of Forsyth the clock shows 1:08; the aerial shot shows 2:31.

If we're to assume the shots were all made on the same day, a logical progression is: the photographer took the westernmost shot first, then this shot, crossed the street, ascended the Buckman Building and took the third. Admittedly an hour is a long time to rise a few floors -- and the building had an elevator -- but perhaps some time was spent in setting up the camera. (Or maybe a stop was made at the Seminole's bar).

[Perhaps he was busy taking more photos. - Dave]

Photos Taken Some Time Apart

I think the roof-level photo was taken as much as an hour or so after the ground-level one was. In the ground-level photo, the shadow from the pole on stage right aims almost exactly at the light post, but by the second one it points several degrees toward the east, meaning the sun has moved to the west. Fifteen degrees worth of movement would (if I remember my astronomy class correctly) mean about an hour has passed.

There are also more people on the street in the ground-level photo, but by the time of the roof-level one, at least two diners and a waiter have arrived in the balcony restaurant of the Seminole on the right. Dinnertime, perhaps? I also think that this was taken in the cooler half of the year, because if it was summer in Jacksonville, those people would be sweltering.

The only vehicle that still remains appears to be the one in the foreground, which has, interestingly, backed up by half a car length or so. Similarly, the two men at it may be (if they are the same two people) be the only ones to appear in both photos. I definitely get "showing it off to his friend" vibes!

Not like today

Where are all the overweight people?

Oh, we were just admiring your automobile

I couldn't find a floorplan for the Hotel Seminole. But I did learn it and the Bisbee Building were designed by Henry John Klutho, following Jacksonville's great fire of 1901. Klutho was in New York City in 1901, but realized an architect was about to be in considerable demand in Jacksonville, so he moved there. He adopted a new "Prairie-School" style of design. This style would later fall out of favor and much of his work was destroyed. Even later, what remained was appreciated all over again.

The occupants of both of these automobiles caught my attention. Somehow, I sense none of the men in contact with either car is the owner or rightful occupant. As far as 'bike to the future', whoever laid their bike down on the curb may soon be reminded automobiles have a reverse gear.


Bicycles were revolutionary when first presented as the Safety Bicycle in the late 1880s. Imagine quadrupling your daily travel distance! Plus many of the earliest automobiles mimicked bicycle technology with chain drive, spoked wheels, pneumatic tires, etc.

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