So what would the first streets have looked like?
Well, they were often dangerous dirt tracks that were muddy in winter, and dusty in summer. They were slippery, with bad drainage and no curbs. With horses a main form of transport, there was urine and manure everywhere.
“The manure often didn’t get cleaned up so it would get ground down and could end up as dust,” says Gábor.
“If that got into a cut or into an eye it could cause infections that could lead to septicaemia. In the 1860s and 1870s that could easily be a death sentence.”
From the 1870s onwards, roads started to be gravelled, a process that went hand in hand with the formation of the Wellington Town Board in the 1860s and the Wellington City Council in the 1870s.
Over the following decades, Wellington saw the introduction of steamrollers to compress the gravel (1880s), electric streetlights (1880s), and the introduction of electrified tram lines (early 1900s).
All changed the nature of how our streets were used.
The 1890s also saw the introduction of the safety bicycle which used a chain rather than having pedals connected directly to the front wheel as they had with the penny farthing.
When combined with the pneumatic tire which was developed at about the same time, bicycles soon become popular as a cheap means of personal transport around Wellington. Not only did air-filled tires absorb the worst of the vibrations from the bumpy roads, they didn’t incur the costs that came with owning a horse.
Bicycles had a particularly significant impact on the lives of women who could now ride a bike while wearing a dress and could travel independently or in groups without male chaperones.