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Welcome to the Online Museum for the Columbia Century Bicycle and the 1892 Chicago Expo. Both were designed to celebrate Columbus’s landfall in 1492.

 

YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO LIVE FOR IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN OUR NEW CENTURY COLUMBIA

The advertising industry developed and grew on the back of the bicycle industry. The 1890s saw the first mass adoption of mechanical personal transport, and the money generated by the bicycle boom of that time kick-started both factory mass-production and the first large-scale advertising campaigns. Albert Pope was responsible for both. Henry Ford learned everything he needed to know from Pope, who was relentless in his company’s expansion, buying out every competitor. Eventually – when competitors would no longer sell to him – he created a national conglomerate of manufacturers, the American Bicycle Corp (ABC) with himself as chairman. The bicycle boom ended soon after and ABC went bust. Pope bought the company. Columbia was Pope’s flagship marque, with innovative designs such as the 1891 Columbia Light Roadster Safety and Columbia Chainless (shaft-drive) models setting standards for the rest of the industry to match.

 

 

This 1891 Columbia Light Roadster Safety was the market leader of its year. The following year it was renamed the ‘Century Columbia’ to mark the 400 year centenary of Christopher Columbus discovering America.

 

The centenary was also celebrated by the Chicago Exposition, which previewed in 1892 and opened fully in 1893. The bicycle industry was still in its infancy. Though bicycles featured in the Worlds Fair Transportation Building, few pictures of their exhibits remain.

Albert Pope’s advertising campaigns still do their stuff. I hope you enjoy this website and its celebration of the birth of the mass-produced personal transportation that we totally take for granted 120 years down the road…