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About 1870, James Starley, described as the father of the bicycle industry, and others began producing bicycles based on the French boneshaker but with front wheels of increasing size, because larger front wheels, up to 1.5 m (60 in) in diameter, enabled higher speeds on bicycles limited to direct drive. In 1878, Albert Pope began manufacturing the Columbia bicycle outside of Boston, starting their two-decade heyday in America.
Although the trend was short-lived, the penny-farthing became a symbol of the late Victorian era. Its popularity also coincided with the birth of cycling as a sport.