It’s safe to say that I’m fascinated with the rich transit history of my adopted hometown of Portland, Oregon, and it’s certainly something that I’ve explored before in a previous project. This new project started out with a very simple goal – to produce a route map of Portland streetcars at their zenith in 1920 that showed each line separately – but it quickly grew into something much more.
Readers of my Transit Maps blog would know that I was extremely disappointed with the recent Montréal Métro map redesign (see the review here), which took a truly unique, iconic design and replaced it with a very ordinary octolinear imitation of itself. So I’ve taken it upon myself to redraw the map as I think it should look: restoring some elements of the previous maps, simplifying and clarifying the network, and adding some new touches all of my own.
First things first: I’ve restored the map’s most distinctive feature – the 30-odd-degree counter-clockwise tilt (older official maps had this at around 37 degrees or so; I’ve decided to use 35 degrees purely because it makes the maths easier). From a technical standpoint, this meant I actually drew most of the map using standard 90-degree angles, then selected everything and rotated it 35 degrees to add the labels and other finishing touches.
Note that stations are spaced to achieve even and harmonious spacing between labels across the map: this means that station dots on the shallow-angled parts of the map are placed further apart than those on the steeper parts. There was a bit of trial-and-error to get this looking right, but it was worth it in the end! It certainly helped to expand the crowded central part of the map.
Simplification! I’ve always disliked the two ends of the Green Line on official maps: they stair-step and wobble around in an overly complex manner compared to the simplicity of the Orange and Blue lines, so I simply straightened them out while retaining their relative trajectory. Similarly, the Yellow Line is now just a simple horizontal path – no kinked line here.
The routes of the AMT commuter rail lines have been straightened and simplified as much as possible, and care has been taken to only have these routes interact with Métro stations where an interchange is allowed. I’ve also taken the opportunity to introduce the official line colours for each branch in the directional arrows at the outer end of each route, just for a splash of brightness.
Labels have been set in mixed-case, which both enhances legibility and allows for larger text (substantially bigger than the current map). I’be also introduced line number bullets, which are placed consistently at the end of each route, and are cross-referenced in the legend at the bottom of the map. These bullets are reserved for the termini stations only, and aren’t used at stations where routes intersect. The interchange between lines is made obvious by the design of the map, and extra bullets at such stations would just take up unnecessary space.
The odd fact that all the elevators in the Métro system only serve Orange Line platforms allowed me to use a single icon for all of them, which works better than the official map’s two icon system, I think. The legend also states this fact explicitly, just to be sure.
Perhaps controversially, I haven’t included the St. Lawrence River at all. The more I worked on this map, the more diagrammatic and simple it became. In the end, the river ended up feeling too “busy” and became superfluous to my needs. If nothing else, its absence serves as a point of comparison between this map and the official one.
What do you think of the map? Leave your comments, critiques or corrections in the comments below.
Click here to view a larger version of the map
A little while ago, someone asked me on my Transit Maps blog whether I had ever seen a map of the New York subway system in the style of the London Underground diagram. Rather surprisingly, I hadn’t actually come across one, so I decided to draw one up myself. Having just completed my own reworking of the Tube Map, I was already acquainted with its design rules and requirements, so this project didn’t actually take that long.
One more post about my redrawn London Tube Map before I move onto other projects.
One thing that bothered me about the map as I worked on it was the way that no visual distinction is made between interchanges that are made within the fare control area – that is, simply moving from one platform to another – and those that require you to exit one station and re-enter at another nearby station, preferably by tapping out and then back in again with an Oyster card. There are many such interchanges in London, some of which are well-known and others which seem to be a deep, dark secret known only to the most seasoned of commuters. They’re officially known as Out-of-Station Interchanges, or OSIs, and they even have time limits defined to set boundaries for “reasonable” interchanges between stations.
While I was researching my redrawn Tube Map, I stumbled across the above representation of the Underground as it supposedly appears to a wheelchair user. While it’s probably meant to be more metaphorical of the fractured nature of the network than a literal representation, I find myself infuriated by it. For example, the “map” really makes it appear that if you get on at Kings Cross St. Pancras (possibly the one truly accessible station on the Underground), you simply cannot go anywhere.
Wow! I’ve been completely blown away by the (mostly positive) response to my redrawn Tube Map. Thanks to everyone who has left me a comment or note – all of your thoughts help to inform future revisions to the map. There’s a few more parts of the map that I’m personally really happy with that I’d like to highlight in a little more detail than the already lengthy initial post allowed. Read on for the details!
Click here to view a larger version of the map Or here for an alternate version with proper accessibility icons
London’s Underground Diagram (or “Tube Map”) has long been regarded as an icon of informational design, pioneering the way for just about every other schematic transportation map in the world since its inception way back in 1931. But how much of that reputation is actually deserved these days?
I’ve long admired this beautiful 1954 flow diagram of subway service into Manhattan during the morning peak hour, so I set myself the personal challenge of recreating it using modern design tools (Adobe Illustrator) while still staying true to the original principles of the map.
After much work, I’ve finally finished digitally restoring another vintage rail transit map, this time a superb birds-eye pictorial map of Berlin, Germany in 1931. It’s full of awesome details (as you’ll see in some close up images below) and clearly shows the major railroads circling the city as red and white dashed lines, complete with little station sheds and labels for the major bahnhofs.Prints for sale from $28 Zoomable Preview of Map
Long-time readers of my Transit Maps blog might know that one of my all-time favourite maps is this beautiful two-colour diagram of the Paris Métro from 1956. It’s stylish, beautiful to look at and easy to understand, even with just two printed colours — an elegant combination of blue and gold. (The background could be a cream paper, or it might be just aged and yellowed white paper: it’s hard to tell!) While the scan from the original source is high-resolution, it’s oversharpened and not suitable for anything other than viewing on a screen. So — as is my wont — I decided to redraw it in Adobe Illustrator, making it completely vector-based.Blue and Gold Map: Prints from $30
I don’t normally give vintage maps that I’ve digitally restored their own blog post, but this one is just too amazing not to share in full detail. It’s an absolutely stunning bird’s-eye view of central Chicago in 1898 – just one year after the opening of the elevated Union Loop – and it has some of the most intricate detail that I’ve ever seen in one of these maps. Every building, factory, railroad station, streetcar, train, horse, tree and lamp post in the city seems to be shown with absolute precision and clarity.
Prints for sale from $27
If imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery, then H.C. Beck must have been blushing when this diagram of railway services in Sydney, Australia was produced in 1939. Designed just six years after Beck’s famous London Underground diagram first appeared, it mimics the original’s style almost perfectly, even to the point of using an almost exact copy of the iconic Underground roundel on the cover. If nothing else, it shows how quickly Beck’s idea was adopted around the world.
Restoring the vintage transit maps that I’m now selling in my store is a laborious, time-intensive task, but I think that it’s definitely worth it in the end. The major task is getting rid of blemishes: age spots, ink smears, tears, creases, dirt, dust, and even hair or other fibres that are between the print and the scanning surface.
I’ve been showing teaser images of this project for a while now on Twitter, but I’m very pleased to announce that I’m now offering a range of carefully selected and lovingly restored vintage transit, railroad and highway maps in my shop as an historical complement to my own modern transit map designs. Check back often, as I plan on adding more maps in the near future!
While doing research for my recent 1947 Interstate Highways map recreation, I stumbled across some scans (PDF link – 0.3MB) of American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) road sign specifications dated from the 1920s. The very first page has a dimensioned drawing of the then brand new U.S. Highways shield that I find extremely interesting, as it doesn’t quite match the the shield as it actually first appeared on real world signage in 1927. Some further research seemed to reveal that this drawing is of a design prototype (of a theoretical Route 56 in Maine) that AASHO discussed in meetings during 1926. The drawing itself is pretty rough, with dimensions that don’t match the actual size of the drawing and completely different shapes for each side of the now-familiar six-point shield, so I redrew it accurately according to the given dimensions in Illustrator.
Having found and digitally restored the fantastic 1926 map of the U.S. Highway system, I started to look around to see if I could find a similar map from the advent of the newer Interstate Highway network. However, all my usual sources (the Wikimedia Commons, the Library of Congress and other online research libraries) came up with either nothing or only low resolution scans — certainly nothing suitable for reproduction.
So, what’s a map-obsessed graphic designer to do in this situation? Why, redraw the whole thing faithfully from scratch in Adobe Illustrator, of course!
A recent article on CityLabs commemorated November 11, 1926 – the day when all the old national road trails were first renumbered as the U.S. National Highways System that survives pretty much intact to this day. The article also featured this great map that was produced at the time, and a link to a very high-resolution scan of it over on the Wikimedia Commons.
Being a subject close to my heart (as this highway system is the basis of not one, but two of my “subway map” projects), I downloaded the map and began perusing it eagerly; seeing where the system had changed and where it remained the same. As I looked, I began to see that while the quality of the scan was good, and the content of the map was fascinating, the map itself was in a pretty sorry state. Basically, it looks like you’d expect an 88-year old map to look — dirty spots, fold and crease marks, ink that had rubbed off on other parts of the map when the map had been folded, and so on.
A high resolution scan (4325 × 4653px) of the beautiful multi-modal Amsterdam transit map designed by Hans van der Kooi in 1988. Simply click on the image above to view the full-size scan (6MB JPG).
[Cross Post from Transit Maps]
Hey, everyone! I’m thrilled to be able to share some news with you that I just heard about! My U.S. Highways as Subway Map has been accepted for inclusion in the inaugural edition of the NACIS Atlas of Design. There were 150 entries, and only 27 maps – all by different creators – have been accepted, so you can see why I’m excited about this!
The Atlas itself promises to be superb, as evidenced by this excerpt from the project website:
I can’t wait to see the other maps! If you need a recap, here’s the map’s project page on this site, and here’s a link to a larger image of the map. And of course, prints of the map are still available for sale in my secure on-line store.
Well, it had to happen. I’ve set up a new Tumblr where I discuss, critique and celebrate transit maps from around the world – be they official or unofficial, fantasy or real, from the past, present or future. I’ve already got a great selection up and there’s a lot more to come. Head on over to take a look, and follow me or reblog my stuff if you like what you see!Visit Transit Maps!
One thing I often get asked regarding my transit diagrams is how I go about actually creating them. Originally, I just jumped right in and pushed things around on a page in Illustrator until it looked okay. These days, I’m far more organised, meticulous and precise with my work and I think it shows in the quality of my diagrams. Here’s a few tips and tricks that I live by when working on them: Read More
Words cannot express how much I love this redesign of the Moscow Metro diagram. It’s clean, stylish, informational and gorgeous. The repetition of the famous Circle Line at interchange stations is particularly nice.
Do yourself a favour and visit the design studio’s site for a closer look. The “Process” tab is especially worthwhile, as they run through the decisions that led to the final version in great detail. Also note that this took four years of work to get to this stage!
If you find this post interesting, then you’d probably like my Transit Maps blog, where I analyse and discuss transit maps from around the world: past, present or future, real or fantasy. Click here to take a look!