Transportation changed noticeably during the Industrial Revolution that took place in North America and Europe, and paved the way to the efficient transportation that we are familiar with today. Despite the fact that it may be hard to imagine a world without trains, cars, boats and airplanes all of which can travel at incredible speeds, life before and during the Industrial Revolution was drastically different.
Let's look briefly at what transportation was like before and during the Industrial Revolution:
In the years before the Industrial Revolution, there was no form of motorized transportation. Many people walked to the places they needed to go. This is especially true for short distances. For longer distances, the main form of transportation was by ship or horse-drawn wagon. Ships, not having motors, used the power of the wind in order to move from one place to another. Consequently, the speed of travel was limited and quite slow by today's standards. During this time, main cities were built near waterways in order to facilitate trade.
In the course of the Industrial Revolution, which began in the 1700s in Great Britain before spreading to the rest of Europe and North America, society as a whole moved from being primarily an agricultural society to being an industrial society. Factories began to open where mass production began to take the place of hand-crafted goods. As a result, many people moved away from their farms and into the cities.
Also during this time, several important machines were developed that enabled mass production. The first motors operated by steam were developed and transportation began to change. The first change was in the development of canals, which made water travel more efficient. The second change was in the development of railways, which enabled the long-distance shipment of goods and people across land. These two primary changes in travel enabled trade to be expanded over longer distances.
An additional change that occurred during the later part of the Industrial Revolution was the development of the combustible engine. Along with this development came the invention of the automobile although these first automobiles were considerably less developed than the ones that we are familiar with today and had maximum speeds quite slower than those that we have today.
These changes in transportation during the Industrial Revolution aided in the progress of the Industrial Revolution by enabling more efficient, faster trade across both land and water and increasing the distances over which trade could occur.