IN the early 1900s, George’s Carriage Factory, pictured below, catered to the traffic of the day at 109 Theatre Street in downtown Mobile. Owner George Lauber was a German immigrant who came to the United States via the Port of Mobile at age 14 in 1852. A wheelwright and blacksmith, Lauber was listed under Carriage Dealers and Makers in the 1905 Mobile city directory. He also owned the Lauber house next door, living there with his family. Carriage businesses like George’s employed many professionals — woodworkers, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, leather workers and painters — to make and repair carriages. Upon George’s retirement, his son, John William, took over the business. Today, 107 and 109 Theatre streets house a vacant building located across the street from the Conde-Charlotte Museum.
The Mobile city ordinances specify rules for carriage operators. Here are a few notable ones:
“Each driver of a horse-drawn carriage must:
- Promptly provide a written receipt upon payment of fare at the request of the passenger
- Maintain a sanitary and well-groomed appearance.
- Not solicit passengers in a loud or annoying tone of voice or in any manner annoy any person…
- Not refuse to carry or pick up any orderly person.”
By the Numbers
The number of carriage businesses in Mobile in 1900, ranging from carriage makers to carriage dealers.
2-3 miles per hour
The average speed a horse-drawn carriage can travel if the horse is going at a walk. At a trot, speeds increase to 8 – 10 mph.
Experts cite this year as the first year that automobiles outnumber horse and carriages in the U.S., signaling a decisive shift towards cars.
The number of cars sold in the US in 1900. By 1912, that number skyrocketed to 356,000.
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