Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Promotion for Bike Week in 1919 Smaller than in 1918

Tonight there's a workshop on the missing middle code concepts, but the City hasn't published anything new on them. With the new website, they seem to be publishing fewer of the technical memos that are the basis for the presentation materials they then publish. More and more of the information is being filtered, presumably with a view towards shaping the outcome in definite directions. The new website might look better, but as a total source of information it is in so many ways inferior.

The workshop is at the Library, downstairs in the Anderson rooms, at 6pm today, Tuesday the 30th.

"Ride a bicycle": National Bicycle Week ad, May 7th 1919
So we'll talk a little about bike month. There's a real shift in tone in the "bicycle week" advertising from 1918 to 1919.

Half-page ad, May 8th, 1918
There was a lot more in 1918! A full page ad on May 4th, and this half-page ad on May 8th. In 1919 there is only this quarter page ad.

The implied user also seems to shift. In 1919 it is clearly a kid. In 1918 they are adults acting a little like kids, but the ad talks about about office workers and "brain workers." Rhetorically it is aimed at adults in the workplace, and glances sideways at the increasing shift from manual labor to office work.

It also has addresses and features the local bike dealers more.

The year-to-year fluctuation has an element of noise, and we shouldn't be too strong in our conclusions. The economy suffered a post-war lull, and this also is an ingredient. But it is significant that the paper and its advertisers had committed to a large Saturday "Automobile Section." Things are shifting.

But there's bike racing on the first page
of the Auto Section! May 3rd, 1919
The current group of bike dealers are also old enough to be nostalgic for the first bike boom of the 1890s. That was their childhood. Below the "ride a bicycle" ad, there was a history of technology feature, a genealogy of the diamond frame. The bike is no longer this novel machine - the automobile now occupied that slot in transportation tech - and it is possible to have a kind of antiquarian look at its roots.

Nostalgia and history of technology, May 7th, 1919
(We'll have an update on Watt Shipp in the next week or so! He's got some new things going in 1919.)

And here for comparison is the current imagery from the League of American Bicyclists. The weather is great right now!

Our current bike month advertising

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