Manufacturer Unknown Athletic Shoe

Competitive walking, or pedestrianism, became popular in the 19th century when the effects of urbanization and the Industrial Revolution created concern over health and wellness. Cramped urban environments lacked adequate fresh air and opportunities for exercise, and these widespread conditions were thought to spawn degeneracy and disease. Exercise was considered the antidote to these urban ills, and so sneakers like this pair of women’s rubber-soled shoes would have been worn to play tennis or ride a bicycle. The uppers of these Italian-made athletic shoes feature menswear detailing reflecting the fact that women were embracing privileges that had previously been open to only men.