‘Try to Think of a World Before the Railway’

Travel Blog  •  Michael Yessis  •  01.06.11 | 1:36 PM ET

Imagine “the meaning of distance and the impediment it imposed when the time it took to travel from, for example, Paris to Rome—and the means employed to do so—had changed little for two millennia,” writes the late Tony Judt in a terrific two-part piece in the New York Review of Books.

Above all, think of how different the world looked to men and women before the coming of the railways. In part this was a function of restricted perception. Until 1830, few people knew what unfamiliar landscapes, distant towns, or foreign lands looked like because they had no opportunity or reason to visit them. But in part, too, the world before the railways appeared so very different from what came afterward and from what we know today because the railways did more than just facilitate travel and thereby change the way the world was seen and depicted. They transformed the very landscape itself.

Not to mention train travel’s impact on literature.

4 Comments for ‘Try to Think of a World Before the Railway’

Kristina 01.08.11 | 11:40 PM ET

At the time when there were no trains, planes and cars…. travelling was an adventure…. even just going to the town.

@Travelblggr 01.10.11 | 11:58 PM ET

The world does seem more accessible with modern transportation ... something we may take for granted as we gripe about TSA.

Penny 01.11.11 | 3:49 PM ET

You could imagine the same thing with the airplane. Imagine having to take a boat to England, rather than taking a quick flight!

John at Pittsburgh 01.14.11 | 10:19 PM ET

I love train travel. I like the kind of train travel like the one in Harry Potter where in you get to see mountain views. And now we can go wherever we want, and thanks to the inventors, or else I am still in the same place.

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