In America, it is difficult to find evidence of life before the automobile. Our streets are wide and freeways abundant. Yet the bicycle actually "paved the way" for the roads to be built for cars. Early bicycle clubs raised money and demand for paved roads, long before the car was king. Before the roads were paved, the bike was relegated to the cobblestone streets. Imagine riding an early bike with solid metal, wood or even solid rubber tires on such a surface. Early models were nicknamed "bone crushers" for very good reason. It is no wonder it took a while for the bike to be more accessible to the masses. Most people traveled medium distances with the aid of a horse. Here in Portland, if you look close enough you can still see the traces of an equine dominated past.
Scattered across the city right at our feet are contemporary fossils. Steel rings were set into the sidewalk and used as a hitching post for their horses. These sidewalks have been battered around by massive tree roots, home remodels and car tires. Yet they endure and in impressive numbers. Its one of those details that escapes notice in everyday life. Yet, once informed of it, you begin to see them everywhere. It all began about 5 years ago when a local artist began to pay homage to the days of old. He ties up miniature toy horses to the rings and helps bring attention to the connections we seem to have lost with the past ( link ).
Its the little things like this that makes one appreciate people's spark, insight and creativity. Hidden behind a parked car, next to a post office box or parking meter is a little history lesson wrapped in plastic and tethered to a stainless steel cable. Kids seem to gravitate to them and in turn, the parents are left to explain or be perplexed. The link includes some wonderful photos taken by many residents: ( link ).