Blue Thread didn’t have any scenes of Miriam riding her bicycle, but in her life beyond the story (and characters do have lives that don’t fit into the book) she loved to ride around her neighborhood on her bike. She was among many teen girls and women who did. Cycling was so popular in Portland and in other cities by the early 1900s that fashion designers had special clothes for the two-wheeled set. You’ve likely heard of bloomers (and I’ll take that up in a separate post). Here’s an ad for “Two Pretty Bicycle Blouses from the Sunday Oregonian on May 20, 1900.
Bikes were made in Portland, too. You can still see evidence of that in the Pearl District, which used to be part of the Northwest Industrial District and before that Couch’s Addition. The Ballou & Wright Company building that now houses Hanna Andersson was originally a bicycle factory. If you look at the top of the building and an adjoining tower, you’ll see flying bike wheels. Here’s a close-up of one of the wheels.Bikes are big in Portland these days, too. While Ballou & Wright went out of business years ago, several manufacturers are building bikes in the city. Portland is considered the bike-friendliest city in the nation–at least by Portlanders!
Miriam would have delighted in the cycling clubs that are now dedicated to women. There’s the more sedate variety, as shown in this snip from a brochure by the Parks and Recreation Department. And there are more adventurous groups, such as Sorella Forte Cycling Club. Whatever your speed, enjoy!