Lonely Planet Writer

1914 map will make you rethink your travel woes

Like the Ghost of Christmas past trying to set Ebenezer Scrooge straight about the holiday’s meaning, the recent publication of a map showing travel times from 1914 should give holiday travellers perspective on any delays and cancellations they experience.

Bartholomew's chart of the world on Mercator's projection.
Bartholomew’s chart of the world on Mercator’s projection. Image by Norman B. Leventhal Map Center / CC BY 2.0

Originally part of Edinburgh mapmaker John G. Bartholomew’s “An Atlas of Economic Geography,” “The Economist’s” culture and lifestyle magazine “Intelligent Life” dug up the map recently. Called an isochronic map, “isochrones being lines joining points accessible in the same amount of time” “Intelligent life” explains, it shows travelers how long it took to get any place in the world from London.

And as 1914 was the year in which scheduled commercial aviation debuted, it likely wasn’t much of a factor at all. So the travel times—most of continental Europe was within five days, all of the United States within 20 days, and much of the world within 30 days—were a bit longer than what travellers anywhere will experience this holiday season.

“Intelligent Life” observed that many of the travel times demonstrate how travel was changing at the time. “Within five to ten days, you can get as far as Winnipeg or the Blue Pearl of Siberia, Lake Baikal. It takes as much as 20 days to get to Tashkent [Uzbekistan], which is closer than either, or Honolulu, which is much farther away.” The main factor in travel times: railroad access.