We crawled, then we walked, then we carried and dragged.

Now we roll and we rocket, and sail and soar. And stop too often as our growing cities jam. Zoom out with us on the path to arrival.

0312 BC-09-01 00:00:00

Public roads

Roman roads drained easily thanks to beds of pebbles beneath.

0500-09-01 00:00:00


The more we rode horses on paved roads, the more they needed new shoes.

0600 BC-10-01 00:00:00


Naturally occurring magnetic rocks, or lodestones, have attracted us for millennia, and iron and each other for eons.

0610 BC-10-01 00:00:00


Imagine what a shock it must have been for Thales of Miletus, rubbing a piece of amber with some fur, to discover electricity.

0620 BC-07-01 00:00:00


Early public guideways cropped up in Corinth and Malta, and the Roman Empire.

0820-10-01 00:00:00

Magic carpet

Prince Husain and his fellow carpet riders could teleport to far off places, while Solomon's carpet could command the winds and float on the breeze.

1264-09-01 00:00:00


Early rockets in China were used as fireworks and weapons, known as ground rats and fire arrows respectively.

1485-10-01 00:00:00


Biomimickry has been the spark of genius behind many inventions.

1504-09-01 00:00:00

Funicular railway

First came the cable railways, animal-drawn, usually up hills.

1568-09-01 00:00:00


The earliest railways guided animal-drawn wagons laden with coal out of the mines.

1643-10-01 00:00:00


Torricelli created the barometer and the first full artificial vacuum by draining a tube filled with mercury into a pool of mercury.

1662-03-18 00:00:00


For a small fare, the public can climb aboard at designated stops at scheduled times to navigate the city.

1672-07-01 00:00:00

Steam car

The first steam-powered automobile may have been a toy, but it inspired monks a full century later to repeat this feat of toy engineering.

1672-10-01 00:00:00

Artificial vacuum

Nature might abhor a vacuum, but it didn't take us long to defy her.

1712-05-01 08:38:38

Steam engine

The Newcomen atmospheric engine used steam to create a partial vacuum which drove a piston in order to drain water from mines.

1713-12-01 00:00:00

St. Petersburg paradox

If someone offers you a game where you have half a chance to win and your winnings double each win, bet everything.

1726-05-01 08:38:38


An "Island in the Air" hovering aloft above the heavily magnetized land of Balnibarbi.

1770-07-01 00:00:00

Steam tractor

Just as the first railways got coal out of mines, the first automobiles focused on heavy lifting.

1776-03-01 00:00:00

Watt steam engine

The Newcomen engine made rotary was much more versatile.

1776-09-01 00:00:00

The American Turtle

During the Revolutionary War, David Bushnell invented a manned underwater nut-shaped vessel meant to deliver underwater mines to enemy ships.

1782-12-14 00:00:00

Hot air balloon

It turned out that all this talk about human flight was a bunch of hot air after all.

1784-07-01 00:00:00

Road locomotive

The first car was a toy, and the first road-worthy self-powered vehicle was a small-scale prototype of a steam carriage.

1798-07-01 00:00:00


Like the early wagonways, the first railway also was built to carry coal from a mine.

1799-05-01 00:00:00

Pneumatic tube transport

George Medhurst seems to have been the first to conceive of pneumatic transport.

1801-07-01 00:00:00

Steam carriage

Designed and built by Richard Trevithick, the London Steam Carriage was the first automobile to carry passengers, though it was not a commercial success. It employed a high-pressure steam engine unlike Watt and Boulton's engines.

1802-05-01 00:00:00


We'll float air ducts to the surface and light the way with oil lamps.

1804-02-01 00:00:00

Steam locomotive

Thanks to Trevithick, the rail industry started to build steam quickly.

1807-07-01 00:00:00

Commercial steamboat

Designed and built by Robert Fulton, who also invented the Nautilus submarine, the Clermont, ran from Albany to New York.

1812-05-01 00:00:00

Commercial locomotive

The first two-cylinder locomotive managed to turn a profit.

1824-05-01 00:00:00

Atmospheric railway

Some early rail pioneers moved the train with a locomotive, while others placed the powertrain offboard.

1828-05-01 00:00:00


All were welcome to ride on the omnibus (from the Latin for "for everyone").

1830-07-01 00:00:00

Commercial railway

Like the bus system, the railway took more than one hundred years to distill into a sustainable, commercial enterprise.

1834-05-01 00:00:00

Traction pipe atmospheric railway

Pressurizing a train-sized tube proved difficult and unnecessary.

1839-05-01 00:00:00

Chunnel, part deux

The second time around the Chunnel advocates went straight to Napoleon III.

1842-09-01 00:00:00

Earnshaw's Theorem

Magnets don't levitate on their own.

1843-05-01 00:00:00

Commercial atmospheric railway

Traction pipe atmospheric railways were more effective on steep grades than locomotive railways.

1847-10-01 00:00:00

High-speed atmospheric railway

Rapidly improving locomotives and leaky pipes derailed Brunel despite the steam he built with the public for his atmospheric railway along the South Devon coast.

1852-07-01 00:00:00

Safety elevator

Otis' fall-proof elevators might have gone unnoticed if it weren't for the New York World's Fair.

1854-09-01 00:00:00

Orphan Train

The first orphanage in the United States was reportedly established in 1729 in Natchez, MS, where the oldest trail in North America begins.

1854-09-01 00:00:00

Haussman's renovation

The street plan and distinctive appearance of the center of Paris today is largely the result of Haussman.

1859-05-01 00:00:00

London's Pneumatic Despatch Company

The London Pneumatic Despatch Company was formed on 30 June 1859, to design, build and operate an underground railway system for the carrying of mail, parcels and light freight between locations in London. The system was used between 1863 and 1874.

1859-07-01 00:00:00

Car battery

The lead-acid battery allowed us to take electricity on the road.

1861-05-01 00:00:00


Ányos Jedlík created a self-excited dynamo six years before Siemens and Wheatstone, but without their input.

1863-07-01 00:00:00


London's Metropolitan Railway (the Metro) opened to the public as the world's first underground railway. The initial system ran until 1933.

1864-07-01 00:00:00

Electromagnetic Field

Maxwell deduced that light is an electromagnetic wave and gave us a new model for electromagnetism.

1864-08-01 00:00:00

Crystal Palace pneumatic railway

Many of the atmospheric rails in the UK had moved toward traction pipes on steeper grades, but the Crystal Palace was all in.

1865-07-01 00:00:00

Jevons paradox

More efficient consumption leads to more overall consumption.

1868-10-01 00:00:00


You may want to say your prayers before you get a lift from a continuous cyclic elevator with no doors.

1869-09-01 00:00:00


Why ride on wheels when you can ride in wheels?

1870-05-01 00:00:00

Beach's Pneumatic Transit

After digging under Devlin's clothing store on Broadway for two years, Beach produced New York City's first subway, and a pneumatic one at that.


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