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Vintage photos of people riding bikes in 1930s and 1940s America

James Greig | September 10, 2014

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Sometimes I think that bicycle design is going backwards, adding more and more unnecessary complexity onto the beautifully simple single-speed machines of the early 20th century.

Looking at these photos of people riding bikes in the US (taken between 1935 and 1945) I can’t help but have the same feeling.

They were born from the largest photography project ever sponsored by federal government in the US, an immense catalogue of 170,000 images documenting life across the country. The collection came to be known as simply “The file”, and included some of the most iconic images of the Great Depression and World War II, taken by now-famous photojournalists like Dorothea Lange and Arthur Rothstein.

Collected below are some of my favourites, and I’ve saved the best until last — a shot by Dorothea herself of three children in Washington, the eldest standing proudly by a bicycle purchased with his own earnings.

tobacco-trailer sunday-rider sunday-rider-group couple-by-tree-with-bike sunday-rider-2 on-a-trailer-camp office-workers nurses-and-sailors haines-point-lovers central-park-ladies central-park-cyclists boy-decorating-bike bike-repair-sign bike-parking three-arnold-children

Posted to Bikes
by James Greig

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