Mango Beat: Transportation Through the Years

by Martin Jason L. Ita-as
Originally posted on

With so many modern enhancements, travel these days are a lot easier, faster and better than ever before. But have you ever been curious as to how these very modern and reliable modes of transportation have evolved through the years? Much like looking through a family tree, looking back into the past can give you some insight and appreciation for things in the present. Let’s backtrack to the simpler days of early adventuring.

Nowadays, trains are some of the fastest modes of travel, especially within countries like Japan, or cities like New York where many citizens are still very much dependent on trains to get where they want to go. Of course, trains weren’t always high-powered modes of travel. The train started off in the year 1515 as a humble cart, usually for mining, that was pulled and pushed by animals and humans alike on wood and rope rails back in Austria. Since then, different methods have been employed to automatically move these rail carts, such as the locomotive steam engine, built in 1814 by the British engineer George Stephenson.

Decades before the first commercial airlines were even conceived, mankind had always dreamed of air travel by just observing the flight of the insects and birds of the world. The dream of human flight first began in 1783 with the introduction of hot air balloons, which were quite dangerous at the time and only followed the flow of the wind’s direction. During the turn of the 19th century, however, an early model of the airplane was imagined, with fixed wings and an engine. The earliest form of the iconic plane design was nothing more than a kite on a stick with a moveable tail.

Cruising may be quite the luxury today, but back then it was just an afterthought and a business proposal from the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company. During the year 1844, the company introduced “leisure excursions,” allowing passenger travel to the Iberian Peninsula and the Mediterranean beginning at Southampton. It wasn’t until 1900’s that a ship built specifically for luxury cruising were manufactured in Germany, the Prinzessin Victoria Luise. This was 12 years before the sinking of the Titanic, one of the most famous cruise ship disasters in history. Today, cruises and ships are safer and more exciting than ever!

Buses are the usual go-to travel option when it comes to tours and other sightseeing or group trip. The first incarnation of the bus was the omnibus, a horse-drawn carriage that held about 6-8 people at a time. This was the first method of public transport in a group. Around the year 1873, horses were taken out of the equation and instead cable cars on railroads were the norm.  By 1893, however, cost-efficient buses came on the scene and brought about inexpensive city-wide travels.

In years past, the first automobiles were very expensive and very rare. The first cars were invented in Germany and France in the late 1800’s, a marvel of a machine at the time. It was the Americans, a man named Henry Ford in particular, who innovated the way cars are produced. Demand for cars skyrocketed in World War II, so production of cars spread to Europe and Japan in order to meet the orders. That is the reason why these countries are some of the top producers of automobiles and why you’re able to drive out on road trips or through a city whenever you need to.

Looking back into the past can often help make the present and future a little more interesting and clearer. By comparing the past with the present modes of travel, you may be surprised at just how advanced the generation of today’s buses planes and cars can be.