The LCC “Spokes” Scrapbook

Recently the Historic New Orleans Collection digitized the entirety of Spokes: Scrapbook of the Louisiana Cycling Club.

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Louisiana Cycling Club Spokes Scrapbook, accession 98-62-L, Williams Research Center, The Historic New Orleans Collection

This scrapbook is a collection of materials pertaining to cycling culture in New Orleans from 1887 to 1891, focused on the activities of the LCC. In addition to hundreds of newspaper clippings describing the activity of the LCC and the cycling scene in New Orleans and nationally, the scrapbook contains dozens of images and clippings of literature and poetry.

Louisiana Cycling Club Spokes Scrapbook, accession 98-62-L, Williams Research Center, The Historic New Orleans Collection

Louisiana Cycling Club Spokes Scrapbook, accession 98-62-L, Williams Research Center, The Historic New Orleans Collection

The Louisiana Cycling Club was the second major cycling club in New Orleans, formed in 1887. Its members were younger than those of the older New Orleans Bicycle Club, which formed in 1881. The newspapers referred to this new club as “young” and “progressive.” The LCC eschewed stiff Victorian behavioral codes in favor of a youthful freedom and boisterousness. They were also the first bicycle club in New Orleans that admitted women, eagerly encouraging the women of New Orleans to hop on the ride. The original members rode high wheel bicycles, or “penny farthings,” which were difficult and dangerous to ride. The young “wheelmen” took pride in the danger and found levity in taking “headers,” a frequent accident in which the bicycle tipped forward and the rider flew over the handlebars head first.

Louisiana Cycling Club Spokes Scrapbook, accession 98-62-L, Williams Research Center, The Historic New Orleans Collection

Louisiana Cycling Club Spokes Scrapbook, accession 98-62-L, Williams Research Center, The Historic New Orleans Collection

Going into the 1890s, the development of the “safety,” with two wheels of equal size and a chain driven crank on the back wheel rather than the front, encouraged more riders to take up cycling and join the club. The design of the frame made it much more possible for women to ride, and the LCC elected it’s first female member in 1891.

For these young people growing up in the new uptown suburbs along the St. Charles streetcar line, the bicycle offered an independent form of transportation that allowed them to tour around the city visiting resorts and discovering new recreation spots that couldn’t be reached by public transportation. The LCC was the first cycling club in the South to build its own clubhouse, at 1637 Octavia Street, on the edge of the newly developing suburbs along the St. Charles streetcar line.

Louisiana Cycling Club Spokes Scrapbook, accession 98-62-L, Williams Research Center, The Historic New Orleans Collection

Louisiana Cycling Club Spokes Scrapbook, accession 98-62-L, Williams Research Center, The Historic New Orleans Collection

You can read more about the LCC and see more images here.

In the pages of of LCC scrapbook, you can read about the bicycle races they held as well as the parties they threw at their clubhouse and the excursions they organized on the weekends. You can also see comical illustrations and rare photographs of the early cyclists of New Orleans.

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