In the late 1800s America enjoyed its first taste of freedom on the road. The bicycle “craze” was in full swing, and Waltham led the way. Charles Metz and his Waltham Manufacturing Company produced the Orient bicycle, a technically-advanced machine that swept to international acclaim on the track and on the road.
In our Transportation gallery, you’ll learn about Metz and his contribution to cycling, and how bicycles soon gave way to motorcycles and automobiles. You’ll see how New England became the country’s largest producer of cars before the 1920s (that’s right, ahead of Detroit), with some 200 manufacturers. Three of these were located nearby along the Charles River – Ford in Cambridge, Stanley in Watertown, and Metz right here in Waltham.
In our Transportation area, you’ll learn about the three very different operations of these companies, from Ford’s highly-standardized assembly lines to the idiosyncratic Metz company, which marketed inexpensive “buckboard” autos to a wide audience. Some Metz cars were sold to enterprising do-it-yourselfers as kits for $27 (plus shipping, of course).
Our Transportation collection also includes a tribute to Waltham’s Francis Davis, inventor of the automatic transmission, our collection of Orient bikes, a stripped down Model T Ford, an early Metz-Marsh motorcycle, and a 1908 Orient “buckboard” auto.