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Project: Interstates as Subway Diagram (Revised Version)


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My original Eisenhower Interstate System in the Style of H.C. Beck’s London Underground Diagram is one of my most successful pieces of design, with almost 85,000 views on Flickr, countless posters sold, and inclusion in the excellent book Mapping America: Exploring the Continent (highly recommended for map geeks!).

However, since I completed it, I have produced quite few more transit-styled diagrams and have learned a lot about the design skills required to produce them. As a result, some elements of the original poster began to grate on my nerves—poor design choices and sloppy technique had produced something that was no longer up to my own personal standards.

So I started again from scratch. Although the two diagrams may look superficially similar, almost every aspect was reevaluated and reworked. Route line colours, line thicknesses and corner radii were tweaked to more closely match the diagram’s inspiration: the London Tube map, and a logo that playfully echoes (without being derivative of!) the famous London Underground roundel was created.

Accuracy is greatly improved on this version, with every endpoint being rechecked: I-55’s southern end is now properly in LaPlace, Louisiana, rather than my previously lazy choice of New Orleans. Similarly, I-93 now threads its way through Boston to rejoin I-95 in Canton, and I-64 extends past St Louis to terminate in Wentzville. I was also able to show the unusual east/west splits in I-35 in Fort Worth/Dallas and Minneapolis/St Paul, and have added more intermediate cities to many of the route lines. Finally, I addressed perhaps the biggest complaint I received on the first version: the omission of Pittsburgh. It now sits nestled between its surrounding interstates (I-70, I-76 and I-79, which form a neat triangle around the city, just as in real life).

As always, comments are welcome!

Large JPG Preview of Interstates Map Zoomable On-line Preview of Interstates Map


  1. Charles Bryan

    I just followed a link in a tweet to this site. This map is a complete delight. I thought I knew quite a bit about the interstate system, but it wasn’t until I looked at the legend on this map that I realized that so many rout numbers are not in use. And that so many of the ones that are being used are in the upper number range.

    Ay any rate, when I figure out where I want to hang this map, I plan on buying one. I’m a sucker for highway maps and subway maps — this, of course, is the best overlap of that Venn diagram.

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  9. IowaM1N1

    Another update for the next version — I-49 opened from Kansas City MO south to the AR border, intersecting I-44 near Joplin MO. Officially opened on December 12, 2012 (12/12/12).

    The intersection in Kansas City is a bit tricky — I-49 ends when it connects to I-435 at the southeast corner of the metro and does not connect to I-35 or I-70. However, connecting it to the Kansas City dot looks like it will be consistent with your standard.

    Ultimately the plan is to complete I-49 from Kansas City all the way thru Fayetteville, Fort Smith (I-40), and Texarkana (I-30) to Shreveport where it connects to the southern I-49. A little alignment tweak will be necessary to prepare your graphic for that plan.

    Love this graphic — hope you keep it up!

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  13. Robert Slaven

    Just saw this on I love it! Someone commented that they’d love to see something similar for the Canadian national highway system, and I (a Canadian currently living in the US) agree!

    So, someday, if you’re ever really bored, check out page 6 (national map) and the more detailed regional maps in Appendix 1 (pages 19-38) of “Canada’s National Highway System – Annual Report 2009” at Or, if you know someone in Canada who likes to do this sort of thing…. 🙂

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  15. You might consider using “Front Royal” instead of “Middletown” as the marker of the intersection of 81 and 66 in Virginia. I know Virginia’s small towns and roads very, very well, and I’d never heard of Middletown. The city that is referred to as the intersection of the two roads is Front Royal, which is a short distance away, and substantially larger than Middletown. I think this is supported conceptually by metros doing the same thing—the names of the stations frequently refer to the major facility or landmark that is a very short distance away, rather than the immediately adjacent street name or location.

  16. APJ

    Just seeing this for the first time via Lifehacker. It’s fantastic!

    Is there a reason that Tomah, WI (where I-90 and I-94 divide), is unlabeled? The station symbol looks lonely 🙂

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  27. Derek

    This is just awesome! I think you ought to find a publisher here in the states because I alone know a couple of people who would buy one and I’m sure there are many more! Hey man: you worked hard, now reap, REAP!

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  29. Geoff

    On the next generation, remember I-22 between Birmingham and Memphis is now open. Very cool map! Really highlights the areas that Aren’t on the Interstate system. Any idea what are the largest towns/cities NOT connected on the map?

    • Thanks for reminding me about I-22, Geoff! I knew it was close to being open and have actually already plotted it out in my working file, so it will definitely be in the next version! I have often heard that Fresno is the largest city without an Interstate, and I think there are some big cities in Texas without one as well.

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    • Steve, my earlier version from 2009 used a modified version of the Eisenhower sign, but I wanted this version to be a little cheekier in its callout to its origin. Hence, the Underground-style roundel, but it still uses five stars as a nod back to Eisenhower. Thanks for your comment!

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