Parke-Davis in 1899: Bike to work day is everyday

Here’s an interesting and very short video showing employees walking and biking during a fire drill at the Parke-Davis factory complex on the Detroit River in June 29th, 1899. (We’re not sure why the film says 1903.)

It’s quite the tweed-filled traffic jam. Bicycling was at near its peak and Detroit had not yet gotten the nickname “Motor City.”

While many of the original Parke-Davis building still exist (though re-purposed) we’re not sure the ones in the video remain today.

UPDATE: According to Detroit Free Press article “Biograph in Detroit,” the American Biograph Company shot the film with a “remarkable instrument.” They made a 2-minute film of Detroit Fire Department companies 1, 3, and 5 , which does not seem to be on-line. From the Free Press:

The biograph experts also went out to Parke, Davis & Co.’s works and at noon views were taken of the employes leaving the building. There are over 400 bicycles used by the employes. Nearly 1,000 persons were moving lively while the biograph was in operation. Manager McCutcheon says that all the pictures were first-class and will soon be placed before the public at Wonderland.

The Wonderland Music and Theatre building was located on Monroe Street at Campus Martius.

The film was shown to the public according to another Free Press article on August 20th.

Wonderland’s announcements promise a very good vaudeville show for this week, addition to a lot of new and interesting biograph pictures. Of the latter, no doubt the most attractive will be the view of a fire drill at Parke, Davis & Co.’s big laboratory.

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One Response to “Parke-Davis in 1899: Bike to work day is everyday”

  1. » Tweed Run, Detroit, 1899 The Hidden History of Hardtop Says:

    […] to Todd over at for the heads-up on this footage, shot in 1899, at a factory in downtown Detroit. This was before […]

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