CHICAGO — A Harley-Davidson dealer opening across the street from Wrigley Field, announced last week, is the latest mile marker in a long relationship between the city and the famed Milwaukee-based motorcycle manufacturer.
In 1904 — a year after William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson made their first motorcycles for sale — C.H. Lang opened the first Harley-Davidson dealership, in Chicago, according to the company.
A year later, a 15-mile, Fourth of July race in Chicago was won by a motorcyclist riding a Harley, giving the new brand a marketing boost.
At Harley-Davidson’s Milwaukee museum, the city is represented by a restored 1971, three-wheeled bike with Chicago Police Department insignias. Called Servi-Cars, the vehicles were used primarily by officers giving parking tickets.
An ad at the time touted the vehicles this way: “Parking time limits mean what they say where the Servi-Car officer is on the job.” [DNAinfo/Andrew Herrmann]
The fiberglass bodies were made in Tomahawk, Wis. [DNAinfo/Andrew Herrmann]
A blue beacon was mounted near its front forks. [DNAinfo/Andrew Herrmann]
The Chicago Police Department first added motorcycles to its fleet in 1910. [DNAinfo/Andrew Herrmann]
The vehicles had three-speed transmissions and a reverse gear. They were discontinued in 1973. [DNAinfo/Andrew Herrmann]
This photo of Chicago police showing off their Harleys in 1951 is from the Harley-Davidson archives.
In this undated photo, police can be seen gathered near the CTA. [Harley-Davidson]
This 1909 story in the Tribune noted that 19 manufacturers of motorcycles were participating in the Chicago Auto Show, including Harley-Davidson. The story says the machines are capable of reaching speeds of 60 miles per hour.
Chicagoan C.H. Land opened the first Harley-Davidson dealership, but another business he owned produced tools to tune pianos. Some reports say the first dealership was on East Adams Street and then moved to South Michigan Avenue.
Want to hear how the Servi-Car sounded? Watch the video below: