The Mechanical Horse: How the Bicycle Reshaped American Life by Margaret GuroffThe Mechanical Horse: How the Bicycle Reshaped American Life by Margaret Guroff

The Mechanical Horse: How the Bicycle Reshaped American Life

byMargaret Guroff

Hardcover | April 5, 2016

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With cities across the country adding miles of bike lanes and building bike-share stations, bicycling is enjoying a new surge of popularity in America. It seems that every generation or two, Americans rediscover the freedom of movement, convenience, and relative affordability of the bicycle. The earliest two-wheeler, the draisine, arrived in Philadelphia in 1819 and astonished onlookers with the possibility of propelling themselves "like lightning." Two centuries later, the bicycle is still the fastest way to cover ground on gridlocked city streets.

Filled with lively stories, The Mechanical Horse reveals how the bicycle transformed American life. As bicycling caught on in the nineteenth century, many of the country's rough, rutted roads were paved for the first time, laying a foundation for the interstate highway system. Cyclists were among the first to see the possibilities of self-directed, long-distance travel, and some of them (including a fellow named Henry Ford) went on to develop the automobile. Women shed their cumbersome Victorian dresses—as well as their restricted gender roles—so they could ride. And doctors recognized that aerobic exercise actually benefits the body, which helped to modernize medicine. Margaret Guroff demonstrates that the bicycle's story is really the story of a more mobile America—one in which physical mobility has opened wider horizons of thought and new opportunities for people in all avenues of life.

Margaret Guroff is a magazine editor. She is also the editor and publisher of Power Moby-Dick, an online annotation of Herman Melville's classic novel. She teaches writing at the Johns Hopkins University.
Title:The Mechanical Horse: How the Bicycle Reshaped American LifeFormat:HardcoverDimensions:295 pages, 8.8 × 5.81 × 1.07 inPublished:April 5, 2016Publisher:University of Texas PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0292743629

ISBN - 13:9780292743625

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Chapter One. The Birth of the Bike
  • Chapter Two. The Need for Speed
  • Chapter Three. The Wheel, the Woman, and the Human Body
  • Chapter Four. Paving the Way for Cars
  • Chapter Five. From Producers to Consumers
  • Chapter Six. The Infinite Highway of the Air
  • Chapter Seven. The Cycles of War
  • Chapter Eight. The King of the Neighborhood
  • Chapter Nine. The Great American Bicycle Boom
  • Chapter Ten. Bike Messengers, Tourists, and Mountain Bikers
  • Chapter Eleven. Are We There Yet?
  • Acknowledgments
  • Abbreviations
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Editorial Reviews

"A bright, enthusiastic cultural history. " - Kirkus - 20160201"Margaret Guroff has broken new ground with this masterful account of the bicycle revolution set in the broad context of American social and cultural history. The Mechanical Horse is that rarest of books, a work of solid scholarship and deep analysis so readable that you can’t put it down." - Tom Crouch, author of The Bishop’s Boys: A Life of Wilbur and Orville Wright