In 1897 and 1898 the Philadelphia Inquirer published a series of bicycle routes. Each route had a map and a narrative describing the trip. Most also had a route coupon, providing information on road conditions and hotels or restaurants along the way. Most of the routes fanned out from Philadelphia to the surrounding area, about a third went into New Jersey. One series of connected routes went to New York City, another to Pittsburgh.
The maps were hand drawn. The narratives are detailed with information on road conditions, businesses, historical, and cultural sites along the way, and running commentary on what the rider saw as he traveled along the route. As he frequently gives the date of his ride the route provides a snapshot of that particular day.
The digitzation process begins with the newspaper on microfilm. Working from a printed copy of the microfilmed route, one person typed the routes into a word document and another proofread. The routes are saved as a pdf document and pdf scans are made of the newspaper page, the map, and the route coupon. These documents are then loaded into the Rutgers University Libraries RUCore system.
The routes are all signed A.E. An earlier route published in the Inquirer, before the Trips Awheel series started, but arranged in the same way, is signed A. Estoclet. The Estoclet family was very active in Philadelphia cycling. Alphonse Estoclet (1847-1929), the most likely writer of the bike route series, worked at the Philadelphia Inquirer. He was born in France but emigrated to the United Kingdom and then to the United States. Among his many talents was translating and he was one of the original translators of some of Jules Verne's books. Two of his sons, Joseph and Alphonse David, were ardent cyclists as well.
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