Category Archives: Pedestrian
Daniel O’Leary (Pedestrian. Born, Carrigroe, County Cork, Ireland, June 28, 1842; died, Los Angeles, CA, May 29, 1933.) A sport that reached its popular apogee in the years following the Civil War, walking, or pedestrianism, saw Daniel O’Leary become the world champion. O’Leary twice beat Edward Payson Weston in challenge matches and then won the Astley Belt, emblematic of world supremacy. He outwalked Weston on Nov. 20, 1875, in a six-day match in Chicago, Ill., and in another six-day Apr. 7, 1877, in London, England. O’Leary often competed in walking contests, which were generally held indoors, in the years before bicycles were invented. His frequent appearances in the New York area excited great public interest, but the sport was supplanted by bike racing six-days in the 1890s. O’Leary later turned to cross-country endurance walks, many tied to the dedication of athletic facilities.
Edward P. Weston (Pedestrian. Born, Providence, RI, Mar. 15, 1839; died, Brooklyn, NY, May 12, 1929.) Starting in 1861, Edward Payson Weston established himself as America’s leading pedestrian and began a fad of competitive walking. Weston, a one-time copy boy for the Herald, was the first U.S. star of six-day walking competitions and dominated the early days of the new sport in the post-Civil War era before losing twice in three years to Daniel O’Leary. He never lost his interest in walking even as the sport faded out in the 1890s. In 1909, at age 70, Weston walked a reported 3,895 miles from New York to San Francisco in 105 days. A year later, he walked from Los Angeles, Calif., to New York (reportedly 3,483 miles) in 77 days. In 1927, Weston was struck by a taxicab in New York and spent his final years in a wheelchair. He was befriended by Anne Nichols, author of the long-running Broadway hit, Abie’s Irish Rose (opened May 23, 1922, and ran for 2,327 performances), who supported him financially.