The Burton Holmes Archive has information about Burton Holmes, the travel writer who became the first person to make filmic travelogues. More importantly, they also have a lot of film clips by Holmes and his associate, André de la Varre, who was also a great travelogue maker himself. Watching these clips is not quite time travel, but it is as close as we can get. Take a look at Reykjavík, Iceland, in 1926, Lake Michigan in 20s, Cairo in 1932 and the 1955 Rio de Janeiro carnival. The later films have sound and narration, but I prefer the silent ones. [Burton Holmes previously, André de la Varre previously, and the Travel Film Archive, which runs Burton Holmes site, previously]
Chairman Mao's Underground City is a pictorial travelogue of a small part of the tunnels that Chairman Mao had built under Beijing to serve as a nuclear fallout shelter. The intrepid urban explorers come across some surprising things. The complex, which was built by hand, could house three hundred thousand people for up to four months and had amenities such as restaurants, cinemas and roller rinks. Here's a short Travel Channel feature on the Underground City.
I know a man who once went to Sioux City, not one of the world’s leading destinations, precisely because he had never been there before. More than a decade later he still talks about the experience, from the Sergeant Floyd obelisk to the dog track of North Sioux and the meat packing plant converted to a shopping mall. The same impulse explains a non-specialist’s reading a history of Byzantine iconography or a survey of Australian wildlife. Both offer a break in daily life and an enlargement of our sense of wonder and possibility. That awareness can provide a sense of transcendence, and connection, or even the spark of divine discontent that leads people to change their lives.Reading as Vacation, an essay by J. D. Smith and Subway Reader, pictures of people who read while using public transportation.