Nellie Bly Returns Home

On January 25, 1890, police cleared a path through a cheering crowd for reporter Nellie Bly as she stepped off a train in New York just 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes, and 14 seconds after setting sail east to prove she could circle the globe in less than 80 days.

Bly, born Elizabeth Cochrane, challenged the fictional record of Phileas T. Fogg, hero of Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days, at the suggestion of her employer, the New York World. As Bly traveled via ship, train, jinricksha, sampan, horse, and burro, the World carried daily articles about her journey and offered a trip to Europe to the person who could come closest to guessing her finish time. The paper received nearly 1,000,000 entries and circulation boomed.

In 1888, Nellie suggested to her editor at the New York World that she take a trip around the world, mimicking Jules Verne's book Around the World in Eighty Days. A year later, on November 14, 1889 she left New York on her 24,899-mile journey.

"Seventy-two days, six hours, eleven minutes and fourteen seconds after her Hoboken departure" (January 25, 1890) Nellie arrived in New York. At the time this was a world record for circling the earth, though it was bettered a few months later by George Francis Train, who completed the journey in 67 days.

On her travels around the world, she went through England, France (the home of Jules Verne), Brindisi, the Suez Canal, Colombo (Ceylon), Hong Kong, and Japan.

In the early hours of a smoky morning as we sat reading in the cabin of a ferry, a sudden shriek from our whistle, followed by a succession of piercing toots brought us to our feet to see what disaster was pending, when behold, close at hand lay the Japan steamer, Oceanic, with a tug at her side receiving on board a small piece of woman-hood which then sped away for the Oakland mole, where a special train awaited the arrival of Nelly [sic] Bly.”

— Susie Champney Clark, The Round Trip from the Hub to the Golden Gate