The Birth of Tourism: From the Taj Mahal to the Pyramids at Giza, Via Victoria Falls and Old Faithful, This Month's Selection of Images, Drawn from the Royal Geographical Society's Archives, Examines the Origins of Recreational Travel and Shows Some of the World's Most Famous Landmarks as They Appeared in the Days before They Became Staples on the Tourist Trail

Geographical, November 2007 | Go to article overview

The Birth of Tourism: From the Taj Mahal to the Pyramids at Giza, Via Victoria Falls and Old Faithful, This Month's Selection of Images, Drawn from the Royal Geographical Society's Archives, Examines the Origins of Recreational Travel and Shows Some of the World's Most Famous Landmarks as They Appeared in the Days before They Became Staples on the Tourist Trail


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The Taj Mahal at Agra in Uttar Pradesh, northern India, 1860-70. Completed in 1653, the Taj Mahal, which took 20,000 men more than 20 years to build, is one of India's most recognisable landmarks and arguably the most famous mausoleum in the world. On average, it receives more than 3.5 million visitors each year, but local pollution is slowly darkening the famous white marble and some conservationists estimate it may be totally discoloured within 50 years unless action is taken soon

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Left: Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone National Park, USA, 1913. Established in 1872, Yellowstone was the first national park in North America and received an estimated 300 visitors in its first year of business. By last year, this figure had swelled to almost three million. The first significant exploration of the park took place in 1869, when a group led by David Folsom completed a 36-day expedition up the Missouri River, a trip that was repeated two years later by US Geological Survey Director Ferdinand Hayden. Hayden brought back photographic evidence of the region's abundant geothermal features, and as word of this unusual landscape spread, commercial developments and crude spas sprang up around the hot springs. The uncontrolled spread of tourism and industry soon decimated wildlife to such an extent that in 1886, the US Army took control of the park to reinstate some form of order; Top: local guides with European tourists, Giza Necropolis, Egypt, 1867. Of the original seven wonders of the ancient world, the Great Pyramid at Giza is all that remains. Rocks for the pyramids and tombs within the necropolis were quarried locally, and the 4,500-year-old Great Sphinx lies on the site of one of these quarries the 50-metre figure is carved from the bedrock that was left behind by the quarrying. The area, which borders the country's capital, receives in excess of five million visitors each year. Tourism is currently the biggest industry in Egypt, providing more than 11 per cent of the country's gross domestic product; Above; Victoria Falls Bridge, Zimbabwe, 1920. Rising 128 metres from the valley floor and spanning 152 metres between Zimbabwe and Zambia, the Victoria Falls Bridge was conceived by Sir Cecil John Rhodes and brought into being by George Andrew Hobson and Sir Ralph Freeman, the engineer who also designed the Sydney Harbour Bridge 25 years later. Once the bridge was opened, the area became hugely popular with colonial tourists. The falls themselves form the biggest single curtain of falling water in the world. More than 100 metres high, they create a column of spray that rises up to 400 metres. The falls were inscribed onto the World Heritage list in 1989 and currently draw more than one million tourists to the area each year

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Left: Moai at Rano Raraku, Easter Island, 1913-16. …

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The Birth of Tourism: From the Taj Mahal to the Pyramids at Giza, Via Victoria Falls and Old Faithful, This Month's Selection of Images, Drawn from the Royal Geographical Society's Archives, Examines the Origins of Recreational Travel and Shows Some of the World's Most Famous Landmarks as They Appeared in the Days before They Became Staples on the Tourist Trail
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