Richard J. Daley created Chicago’s first on-street bike routes in 1971. But perhaps the Elder Daley’s most lasting gift to the city’s cyclists is our 18 ½ mile long lakefront trail. During his reign, it was officially designated a bicycle path in 1963. Learn more about Chicago’s cycling mayors.
In the 1890’s, Chicago became the bicycle-building capital of America. It was said that two thirds of the nation’s bikes were produced here by 88 local companies. You can still see their former factories, scattered across the city. Explore the history of Chicago's bike industry.
The bicyclist voting bloc wielded considerable clout in Chicago politics. Years before the popularization of the automobile, they lobbied successfully to build bike-friendly paved roads, and to turn Jackson Street into a streetcar-free Jackson Boulevard. Understand the evolution of bicycles and roads.
The Washington Park Racetrack drew crowds of nearly 50,000 in the 19th Century to watch and gamble on the ponies. Its clubhouse was a playground for Chicago’s socialites, with a membership that was said to include ¾ of the city’s millionaires. The track also hosted major bike races featuring some of the sport’s early superstars, like Arthur Zimmerman. He later became cycling’s first international champion at another Chicago venue. Discover more historic bike races.