This Was the Motorized Scooter of 1918

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Here in the early 21st century, many parks and zoos offer motorized scooters for people who can’t or would rather not walk around. But it’s far from a new concept, as you can see in this photo from 1918.

The December 1918 issue of Electrical Experimenter magazine included this description of the “electric roller chair” newly available at the Bronx Zoo:

Pleasure can now be mixt with knowledge at the New York Zoo by those who go there to study the animals. No more will it be necessary to walk miles upon miles to study all the exhibits on display in the greatest menagerie in America. Just get your electric roller chair — make believe you are on the board-walk at Atlantic City — and see all that is worth seeing in Bronx Park. A twist of the hand lever and away you spin on your trip to see the lions, polar bears, giraffes, and monkeys. A storage batter concealed within the car body furnishes the electric current to actuate the motor which propels the vehicle. Electric headlights are provided for night travel as well as an electric siren to warn pedestrian traffic.


The concept actually reminds me of a prediction from 1900, about the “footomobile” of the future.


We can complain all day that humans are lazy. But we at least have to recognize that not having to exert any effort to move around has long been a promise of tomorrow. Some of those futuristic transportation devices are still to come — be they jetpacks or flying cars. But our motorized scooter future dates back almost a century.