This isochronic map from 1914 illustrates travel times from London. It would be fascinating to see an interactive visualization of isochrones (the boundaries of the coloured regions) shifting over time, perhaps from the 19th centhury, through the 20th century and the age of aviation.
"In the early 1840s an American dry-goods merchant called Asa Whitney, who lived near New York, travelled to China on business. It took 153 days, which he thought a waste of time. When he got back he began lobbying for a transcontinental railroad connecting Lake Michigan with Oregon, which had a trade deal with China. The railroad, he thought, would cut the journey time to China to about 30 days and open up the market. Similarly, the British invested so heavily in the Indian railway that between 1860 and 1880 it extended from 838 miles to 15,842 miles. If you compare this isochronic map to one from the 1870s, by Francis Galton, you see the difference. Bombay is quickly accessible by sea; the rest of India less so. Likewise, there is no spit of pink reaching across the Russian Empire on Galton’s map, because there was no Trans-Siberian Railway. As the geographer L.W. Lyde says in his introduction to Bartholomew’s atlas, “isochronic distances...change with every additional mile of railway brought into use.” What was the one thing a young entrepreneur needed most? A train ticket."
One more insight to share --
With parts of inner Mongolia, the African Sahara, and Siberia virtually unreachable, it's easy to see how these places have been romanticized in eras past.