Throwback Thursday | California Cycleway in 1900

SouthPasadenan.com | Pasadena Museum of History | California Cycleway looking toward Pasadena, South Pasadena’s Raymond Hill (1900)

During the late 1800s, Horace M. Dobbins was listening to the crazed bicycle public. When Dobbins started the California Cycleway Company in 1897, he planned to build the region’s first elevated wooden-planked cycleway exclusively for bicycles.

In 1899, Dobbins began construction from the Green Hotel (running parallel to Fair Oaks Avenue) heading toward Raymond Hill in South Pasadena.

Following completion of the first phase, the goal then became to extend the cycleway to its downtown Los Angeles destination.

SouthPasadenan.com | Pasadena Museum of History | Cycleway entrance toll booth, Green Hotel (1900)

On New Year’s Day 1900 the cycleway was open to the public. One could now travel the distance between the region’s two major resort hotels (Green and Raymond) non-stop by bicycle.

The cycleway’s second phase of construction to Los Angeles was never built.

SouthPasadenan.com | Pasadena Museum of History | Horace Dobbins sits in the saddle of an early electric car on his California Cycleway, Raymond Hill (1900)

Dobbins is referred to as the “Grandfather of the Arroyo Seco Parkway” because his California Cycleway Company proposed the region’s first route between Pasadena and Los Angeles using the Arroyo Seco as the primary route. However, almost immediately after building the cycleway automobiles began to dominate travel on surface roads. The cycleway was dismantled for its lumber.

Author Rick Thomas is the former museum curator and vice-chair of education for the South Pasadena Preservation Foundation. He served on the South Pasadena Natural Resources Commission, helping to maintain a strict policy protecting the city’s great old-growth trees. Using touchstone photographs from his own collection—one of the San Gabriel Valley’s largest accumulations of historical images and artifacts—as well as national, state, and local historical archives, Thomas provides a window to his city’s past and an understanding of why its preservation is so important.

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