Recreating History Award
You've probably seen those historic photos from the 1915 Panama-California Exposition that show happy couples in basket-shaped carts used for cruising Balboa Park. The adults look enthralled by the whimsical, motorized ride in an Osborn Electriquette, as the little vehicles were called, even if they have a squirming child aboard. Given a chance to command the simple steering bar, children perked up. Rental ads from 1915 promised, "A child can drive it. It's great fun."
Well, none of those wicker carts survived, so when San Diegans started preparing for the Exposition's centennial, the idea of bringing the Electriquette back was born. The job wasn't easy. The first challenge was to create scale drawings from historic photographs, and to analyze the battery-powered engine that ran at three-and-a-half miles per hour, or walking speed. A factory in China wove a wicker basket prototype and shipped it to Cambridge, Massachusetts. There an MIT-trained engineer recreated the electric engine and steering bar before attaching them to the basket. The prototype travelled cross-country to San Diego for a test drive in the park by the man who commissioned the copy. The experience and reproduced design were so successful that he ordered 25 Electriquettes. They've been back in service at the park for about a month. You may have seen them tooling along El Prado or maybe you've rented one yourself. The jury said, "Once again, taking a ride in an Electriquette is likely to become an endearing pastime for park patrons."
We congratulate Sandor Shapery for rolling out his Electriquettes with the Recreating History Award.
Historic photos courtesy award winner. All others by Sandé Lollis
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