Let’s Zoom Around Boston, Shall We? Next Stop: New York City!

July 27, 1888

In Boston, inventor Philip W. Pratt conducted a public demonstration of an electric tricycle that he had designed and was built by the manufacturer and electrical engineer Fred M. Kimball. As part of his demonstration, Pratt took the editor of Modern Light and Heat magazine for a ride on the new device around Boston’s Winthrop Square.

The high-wheel electric tricycle, which weighed about 300 pounds (136.1 kilograms) and reached a speed of eight miles (12.9 kilometers) per hour, was powered by six lead-acid cells producing approximately 20 volts for the motor. After its debut in Winthrop Square, the rechargeable electric tricycle was exhibited on Columbus Avenue in Boston; at Central Park in New York City; and along the boardwalk in Atlantic City.

Pratt’s invention was not the first-ever electric tricycle — engineers William Ayrton and John Perry had built a similar model in England in 1882 – but it was the first to be formally introduced in the United States and has been credited with encouraging continued American innovations in self-propelled vehicles.

For more information on Philip W. Pratt and his electric tricycle, please check out https://www.wired.com/2009/07/dayintech-0727/.

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