|At the Philadelphia Convention in 1876 rolling chairs were first introduced for recreational use. These early chairs, which accommodated only one person, closely resembled wheelchairs (or invalid chairs) of that time. The chairs arrived in Atlantic City by 1884, when Philadelphia merchant Harry D. Shill started offering them for rent. In 1887, William Hayday, who owned a hardware store near the Boardwalk, started renting similar wheelchairs to vacationers in Atlantic City and provided attendants to push the chairs.
When the first Boardwalk was laid out in 1870, vehicles of any kind were prohibited. The construction of the third Boardwalk in 1884 was more accessible to vehicles, and wheelchairs were allowed for the use of handicapped persons. Some individuals pretended to need the chairs. City authorities made no objection to this, and the practice grew. The City began licensing rolling chairs in 1891, charging a $10 fee for each chair.
|Early Rolling Chair. (H009.388.341Rol; ACFPL Heston Collection)|
Frank Butler. Book of the Boardwalk. Haines and Co.: Atlantic City, NJ, 1952.
A.E. Seidel. 100 Years of Boardwalk Rolling Chairs. N.p.: Atlantic City, NJ, 1984.
Bryant Simon. Boardwalk of Dreams. Oxford University Press: New York, 2004.
Rolling Chairs News Excerpts (388.341 Rol)
Please see the Heston Collection indexes at the Reference Desk to locate postcards and photographs on this subject.