1870s Yale rugby team found here
Typical of many pedestrians, Exilda La Chapelle was a young immigrant. According to her accounts, she was born in 1859 in Marseilles, France. By the age of thirteen Exilda was walking for a living. As a “pedestrienne,” she probably walked several hours a night, in taverns and small theaters throughout Canada and the Northern United States. Pedestrian performances were considered exciting entertainment, especially when spectators wagered on the contests. Large numbers of people came to see the girl walk. Yet many spectators and other citizens considered pedestriennes to be “fallen women.”
1870s French doll found here
An English woman in Brooklyn, Ada Anderson, attempted a seemingly impossible task, to walk 2700 quarter-miles in 2700 consecutive quarter-hours. Towards the end of her month-long endeavor, thousands of people, including well-heeled gentlemen and society belles paid up to $1 apiece to see the walk. Madame Anderson’s successful finish was reported as front page news throughout America. In New York, Boston, and Washington, women feverishly walked the sawdust rings.
Man heels found here
In Chicago, Madame La Chapelle resumed her walking efforts. Despite the fact that she looked like a young girl, Chicago newspapers called her “one of the greatest female pedestrians.” During Exilda’s month-long walk at the Folly Theatre, the newspapers reported extensively on her weight (which began at about 100 pounds and ended at 92 pounds), physical appearance (an assortment of tasteful dresses and leggings), mental disposition (ranging from happy to discouraged), and diet (raw oysters, eggs, beef tea, sherry).
not this kind of Sherry
From January 25 to February 22, 1879, Exilda walked a quarter mile every fifteen minutes. Despite the obvious pain of sore feet and lack of sleep, she never publicly complained. And somehow she gained a second wind. Women patrons presented her with expensive jewelry, and less affluent admirers presented her with bouquets and applause. At the finish, La Chappelle not only broke the previous record, but shattered it, making 3,000 quarter miles.
jewelry infused water bottles found here
Not everyone was pleased with Exilda’s performance, or similar feats. In New York, the Women’s Christian Temperence Union decried the evil of pedestrianism. The Washington Post, while favorably covering local pedestrienne contests, compared watching La Chapelle’s walk to viewing the Spanish Inquisition.
*From an article by Dahn Shaulis found here