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.
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 on the hunt for old maps to feature on the Transit Maps blog, I came across this fantastic one from 1959 (link) that shows all Class I railroads in the USA and Canada. Railroads in North America are classified according to their operating revenue, and Class I is the highest level. Currently, there are just 11 Class I railroads in North America, but in 1959, there were at least 90 (as shown on this map) and quite possibly even more (the map seems to omit Mexican railroads).
In addition to the maps that I sell in my own online store, I also sell prints (and other products like phone and laptop cases) via the print-on-demand service, Society6. One problem with Society6 to date has been making all the photos I have there easily accessible – older work tends to just “disappear” behind the sheer weight of newer posts. I’ve tried to feature some of my favourite photographs on this site via the “My Photography” post category, but that can only do so much.
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 photo taken on a fog-shrouded morning in Venice, Italy back in 2003. I’m on the bow of another canal ferry (called a vaporetto locally), which had just pushed off from the Ferrovia (railway station) wharf and was standing by as this other vaporetto came in to dock.
The way that the fog makes the buildings along the canal disappear into nothingness, with the ferry emerging from that emptiness is what makes this shot for me.
Camera: Canon Digital Rebel XT (EOS 350)
Lens: Canon EF-S 17–85mm f/4–5.6
Focal Length: 20mm
ISO Speed: 800
A view along the length of the old officers’ quarters at Fort Point, San Francisco. I’ve tried a lot of different processing methods on this picture since I took it way back in 2006, and this is really the first time I’ve been truly happy with the result.
As you can tell from the EXIF metadata, shooting conditions were challenging. It was gloomy inside the building, and no tripods were allowed. So I pumped up the ISO (800 was about as far as I ever liked to go on the ol’ Digital Rebel, as noise just got too noticeable after that), set the aperture for some decent depth of field and braced the camera against myself as best I could. With an exposure length of 1/4 of a second, this really shouldn’t have come out anywhere near this sharp, but it somehow worked. The new 2012 processing algorithms in Lightroom 5 definitely do a much better job than the old ones, while the straightening and lens distortion tools took care of my slightly off-kilter framing.
In my post about the overall Highways of the United States project, I mentioned that the reason I made the map of the U.S. so big and detailed was so that I could break the map down into individual states and regions. Below is a gallery of all the maps available for sale. You can click on the “View Full Size” text in the gallery lightbox to see the largest preview for each map.Posters from $27 in the Shop
After almost two years of single-handed research, design, checking and cross-checking, I’m incredibly proud and thrilled to present my latest map project. It shows every single current and signed Interstate Highway and U.S. Highway in the contiguous 48 states in a style very similar to my previous Interstates as Subway Map and U.S. Highways as a Subway Map projects. Having made two separate maps that showed each type of road, I really had to at least try to combine them both into one map, didn’t I?
However, I’d stop short of calling this a “subway map”. While still taking many design cues from that genre, I’d rather call it a “simplified road map” instead. Because of the insane complexity of the two combined networks, there’s a lot more adherence to geography here than in those previous, more stylised diagrams. Yes, the roads have been straightened out a lot – especially the Interstates – but many cities fall pretty much exactly where they would be on a “real” map, and roads cross state borders at or very near the correct locations. The overall shapes of the states have also been preserved as much as possible: you’ll see why soon!
The map follows much the same design principles as the previous ones: white circles with black strokes denote named places (cities, towns, etc.) where two or more roads intersect. The more roads at that location, the larger the dot. Named places at intersections are always shown, even if they’re just a teeny-tiny little hamlet. Not all roads meet at named places, so there are intersections with no labels. Places that fall along a road between intersections are shown as a “tick”, and are included if they have a population of 1,000 or over (thanks, Wikipedia!). Obviously, some places are left off the map for clarity in very populous urban areas, especially if they are considered as part of a “greater” metropolis: I apologise in advance if your home town is missing. There’s still an incredible 4,385 named places on the map!
Having to show different types of roads on the same map meant that an additional level of complexity was introduced. I decided that stroke width was the best way to differentiate between two-digit Interstate Highways (the thickest stroke at 8 points wide in my working file), three-digit Interstates (6pt) and U.S. Highways (just 4pt wide). As before, bright colours were assigned to the “major” routes as defined by AASHTO: these are two-digit routes ending in “0” and “5” for Interstates, and “0” and “1” for U.S. Highways. The U.S. Highways use a lighter tint of the corresponding Interstate colour to differentiate between them if they ever run in close proximity (this is rare, but it does happen: I-55 and U.S. 51 share the same roadway out of New Orleans, for example). Four different greys are then used for the “minor” routes, with cool greys being assigned to odd-numbered routes and warm greys used for even routes. Minor Interstates are represented in darker greys than the minor U.S. Highways to reinforce their higher position in the information hierarchy.
Roads that touch on the map while running parallel to each other are actually sharing the same physical roadway: in AASHTO-speak, they are “concurrent”. Because of the scale of the map, I can’t always show where a U.S. Route might leave a concurrent Interstate to serve a town and then rejoin again immediately afterwards.
Roads that run closely parallel without touching are not concurrent, but are sharing the same corridor. This often happens where an Interstate has supplanted a U.S. Route as the main highway through an area. While I’ve tried my best to show these corridors as accurately as possible, there are instances where the roads are on the “wrong” side of each other compared to the real world. This is especially true when a winding old U.S. Routes cross and recross a (much straighter) Interstate highway multiple times in a short distance.
But enough talk, here’s an enormous scrollable, zoomable version of the map to peruse!
Needless to say, this map is physically huge. My working Illustrator file was a massive 144 inches wide by 88 inches deep and posters are half that size – the smallest they can be and still retain good legibility. So why did I make the map so big and insanely detailed? Why was it important that the individual states retain their actual shape? Because I’m also making posters of individual states and regions.
And yes, there are posters for sale! Check out both the USA map and the individual state maps in my secure on-line store.Highways of the USA in the store
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!).
Interstate System? Europe laughs at your petty Interstate System, America. In 1975, the United Nations Economic and Social Council’s Economic Commission for Europe ratified a document outlining international traffic arteries through Europe and beyond. Commonly known as E-Roads, these highways criss-cross Europe in much the same way that the Interstate system does the United States, but with even more roads and even longer routes.