Pedestrianism - Book Signing with Matthew Algeo


 

Pedestrianism: When Watching People Walk Was America's Favorite Spectator Sport

Book Signing with Author 

Matthew Algeo

Saturday, April 5th @ 1:00pm
 
 
Strange as it sounds, during the 1870s and 1880s, America’s most popular spectator sport wasn’t baseball, boxing, or horseracing—it was competitive walking. Inside sold-out arenas, competitors walked around dirt tracks almost nonstop for six straight days (never on Sundays), risking their health and sanity to see who could walk the farthest—500 miles, then 520 miles, and 565 miles! These walking matches were as talked about as the weather, the details reported from coast to coast.

This long-forgotten sport, known as pedestrianism, spawned America’s first celebrity athletes and opened doors for immigrants, African Americans, and women. The top pedestrians earned a fortune in prize money and endorsement deals. But along with the excitement came the inevitable scandals, charges of doping—coca leaves!—and insider gambling. It even spawned a riot in 1879 when too many fans showed up at New York’s Gilmore’s Garden, later renamed Madison Square Garden, and were denied entry to a widely publicized showdown.

Pedestrianism: When Watching People Walk Was America’s Favorite Spectator Sport chronicles competitive walking’s peculiar appeal and popularity, its rapid demise, and its enduring influence, and how pedestrianism marked the beginning of modern spectator sports in the United States.

 
 
About the Author

Matthew Algeo is an award-winning author who enjoys writing about unusual and interesting events in American history. He is also an award-winning journalist who has reported from four continents, and his stories have appeared on some of the most popular public radio programs in the United States. In addition to reporting and writing, Algeo has held jobs as a convenience store clerk, a gas station attendant, a Halloween costume salesman, and a proofreader. He also worked in a traveling circus (as a hot dog vendor; no acrobatics involved). His wife Allyson is a U.S. Foreign Service officer. They live in Mongolia with their daughter Zaya.
 
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Event date: 
Saturday, April 5, 2014 - 1:00pm
Event address: 
16 S Main St
18901 Doylestown
us
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