Can’t get there from here: Century-old map shows how much more remote Maine used to be

isochronic map


The Economist’s Intelligent Life magazine recently dusted off this 1914 isochronic map made by royal United Kingdom cartographer John G. Bartholomew, famous in part for naming Antarctica.

The map was originally included as one of many in a Bartholomew atlas for London businessmen, which detailed the world’s topography, climates, commercial crops and languages, among many other things.

The color-coded map above was the one businessmen would use to determine how long it would take to travel to whichever place he might seek to conduct business — and put through a hyperlocal lens, shows that the travel time between Maine and London circa 1914 was about a week.

While the map is London-centric, it’s easy enough to shift the starting point to our home state and think about how time-consuming it would have been to ship products to international markets from here.

This time period was just before automobiles became more commonplace, and as steam-powered ocean liners were replacing sailing ships for transatlantic journeys.

Maine was beginning to make better connections as well: The State of Maine Express overnight train to the hub of New York City was launched just a year earlier, and would go on to run until 1960.

The iconic outdoor apparel retail company L.L. Bean was just two years old at the time.

Of course, today, a businessperson from Maine can reach London — and almost any other city on Earth — in just a day or two using commercial airlines. And thanks to the Internet and ability of people to telecommute, those business connections can be made without ever leaving the office.

Featured main page image of the RMS Aquitania ocean liner, launched out of London in 1914, used under Creative Commons license.