Arnold, Schwinn and Co.

1718 N Kildare Ave Chicago

Design Museum of Chicago
Written By Design Museum of Chicago

The Design Museum of Chicago strengthens design culture and builds community by facilitating the exchange of knowledge through dynamic experiences. Through exhibitions, public and private programs, digital media, and workshops the museum facilitates an open conversation about design across disciplines and borders.

In 1891, German bicycle builder Ignaz Schwinn arrived in Chicago. He worked for two other Chicago bicycle manufacturers before founding Arnold, Schwinn, and Company in 1895 with the financial backing of fellow German, meat packer Adolph Arnold.

Schwinn opened at the beginning of the American bicycle boom, and Chicago was the place to be. With more than 2/3 of American bicycles being produced in the city, bicycle manufacturing was a competitive trade and Schwinn used all of his previous experiences to build the best product and business possible. The first factory opened at the corner of Peoria and Lake, just west of Bicycle Row.

By 1905, the bicycle craze died out, and only a handful of companies remained. Schwinn, well known for its racing bikes and sponsorships, survived the crash and focused on bikes for children. The company became synonymous with durability, reliability, and safety. The introduction of the Aerocycle also made Schwinn synonymous with cool, contemporary bicycle designs. With Schwinn's new balloon tires, lots of chrome, a tank, and a headlight, the Aerocycle was a bicycle that looked different. Kids went nuts for it.

As Schwinn grew, it needed more factory space, first with offices and an assembly plant at 1856 N. Kostner and then a factory here on the West side at 1718–1780 N. Kildare, the current site of North-Grand High School.

Keep Moving: Designing Chicago's Cycling History

Arnold, Schwinn and Co.

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