Hudson Bikes

2201 W Walnut St 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.

The Hudson Bicycle Company was founded by William J. Hudson, African American entrepreneur and icon in the West Side/Lake Street community . One of Hudson's first businesses was a bike loan company that he ran with his father.

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Opened in 1937, Hudson Bicycle Compny had between 75 and 100 bikes at its disposal. Its main location was here at Walnut and Lake on Leavitt with additional spots at Maypole and Hoyne and California and Lake. The majority of Hudson's customers were African Americans who used the bikes primarily for dates and recreation, renting them for 25¢ per hour.

Hudson Bicycle Company closed in 1940, but is an important piece of Chicago's cycling story. Even though the physical material that we see from this period shows white, middle-class, suburban youth as the primary market for bicycles, they certainly were not the only people riding. It is also a critical reminder that material culture is often limited in the stories it can tell. We must be vigilant in recognizing the bias of the storyteller and aware that objects are semi-permanent.

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