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.
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
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.
To say I’m excited about this is an understatement. Thanks to Stuart MacMillan — who very kindly spent the time to show me exactly how this all works — I’ve now implemented awesome zoomable, scrollable versions of many of my transit map designs here on the site. Serving large images on the web has always been problematic (especially when there’s more pixels in the image than can fit on the screen at one time!), and this seems to be the most elegant solution that I’ve seen so far.
Based on feedback from the first draft of this new version of my Amtrak as subway map, I’ve gone and made a few edits, additions and corrections.
The major revision is a reworking of the main section of the Northeast Corridor between New York and Washington to make things a little clearer. I’m still using overlapping “multiplied route colour” lines to indicate identical service patterns, but I’ve broken the routes down into smaller, thematically linked groups: the three “local” Empire Corridor routes (the Empire Service, Adirondack and Ethan Allen Express); the three “inland” routes (the Cardinal, Carolinian and Crescent); and the three Atlantic Coast/Florida routes (the Palmetto, Silver Meteor and Silver Star). These groupings are reflected in the ordering of the route designation disks at New York Penn Station, and the terminus dot for each group displays all three route colours.
With the help of readers, I’ve located and added another three stations: the North Carolina State Fair (which, like the New York State Fair station, only operates for the dates of the fair each year); Lexington, North Carolina (which is only open for one day each year — for the annual Barbecue Festival held in October); and Hillsborough, North Carolina, which is slated to open sometime in 2015. I also heard tell of a Charlotte Airport extension of Carolinian and Piedmont services, but can’t seem to find a solid construction date for it, so it remains off the map for the time being.
The Hoosier State is back on the map, which did require a change in colour for the City of New Orleans, as otherwise the red California Zephyr line would have been directly above the similarly-red City of New Orleans line, making it look as if one long route extended through Chicago. I appropriated the Palmetto’s orange line colour for this, and made the Palmetto a new silver-grey colour to tie in with the two other routes in its thematic group (the “Silver Service” trains).
On this version, I’ve also included the now long-suspended section of the Sunset Limited between New Orleans and Jacksonville, just so you can see how it fits neatly into the structure of the map. Restoration of this service by Amtrak is extremely unlikely, and I would not include this segment on any final version of this map.
As always, comments are most welcome! Almost there, I think!
At the end of April 2015, Amtrak’s Hoosier State service between Chicago and Indianapolis is scheduled to be discontinued — the first complete loss of a service since I created my “Amtrak as Subway Map” way back in 2010. Over the years, I’ve been pretty vigilant to changes to the Amtrak network — adding and deleting stations as required, extending the Downeaster Line to Brunswick and the Northeast Regional to Norfolk — but a change of this magnitude gives me the chance to take a completely fresh look at this project and rework everything from scratch, instead of just tweaking the old diagram again. Let’s face it – I’ve learned a lot of new skills and tricks in the intervening years!
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.
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.
Here’s a small project that was inspired by a message to my Transit Maps blog about the currently existing map for the McKinney Avenue heritage trolley line in Dallas, Texas. As you can see in the gallery below, it could use a little help. However, rather than review and criticise a map produced for a non-profit organisation (most likely by a volunteer or staff in their spare time), I thought that I would create a new, accurate, more user-friendly map instead. While produced as a design exercise for my own benefit, I’m hopeful that the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority (MATA) might consider adopting it as their official map.
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 $22 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 brand new secure on-line store.Highways of the USA in the store
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).
Today is the end of an era in Portland, Oregon.
TriMet, under budgetary stress, has done away with the much-loved Free Rail Zone, which allowed free travel by light rail and streetcar within the “Fareless Square” area of downtown Portland and the Lloyd Center. Not too long ago, Fareless Square also applied to buses in the same area, so the writing’s been on the wall for a while.
[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.
Back in January, I posted a review of the current Boston MBTA transit map on my Transit Maps blog – and I had some harsh words for it (I believe the phrase “hot mess” occurs in the text). Always one to back my words up with actions, I’ve been quietly working on my own revised version that I feel improves the map in quite a few areas. I’ve also created a few different versions to illustrate some points about the design, so hang in there: this could be a long post!
This is it. My final take on a redesigned Washington, D.C. Metro Map. This is my third major revision of a project that began in February of last year, and won the People’s Choice Award in the Greater Greater Washington “Redesign the Metro Map” contest earlier this year. I’ve taken time away from this diagram to work on a few other projects recently, but the release of Lance Wyman’s draft diagram has inspired me to finish an “ultimate” version of my vision of the diagram.
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
Somewhat related to my previous post, here’s a new transit map of Portland for your perusal. This piece was born out of two things – a friendly after-work chat with the immensely talented Ryan Sullivan of Paste In Place, where we discussed a concept similar to this; and a chance discovery of a high-resolution scan of a 1943 streetcar/trolley map on the amazing Vintage Oregon site.
Here’s a new transit diagram that I’ve been working on for a while now – a unified rail transit map for the place I live, Portland, Oregon. Portland is blessed with fantastic public transportation, but I’ve always felt that the official TriMet system diagram fails to fully show this, even after its recent redesign.
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!).
Presenting my next transit-styled diagram, this time showing all the high speed train routes that pass through France. This includes the French (SNCF) TGV trains, the Eurostar trains from London, the Thalys services from Belgium and the Netherlands, and some ICE services from Germany that operate in tandem with corresponding TGV services from France. It does not show high speed trains that do not pass through France: for example, the ICE train from Amsterdam to Germany does not pass through France, so is not shown.
Research for this diagram was particularly tricky as no one source outlines all the routes in one comprehensive listing. I had to compile the information from various sources, none more valuable than the amazing Deutsche Bahn web timetable, which I have fond memories of using in 2003 as I caught trains all over Europe while backpacking.
Once I started the diagram, the sheer amount of high speed services in France initially overwhelmed me, and it was a long while before things formed a coherent pattern for me. Once I worked out the complex routing of trains out of and around Paris, things began to fall into place. I decided that colour-coding would try to reflect the origin of the train, so all trains out of the Gare de l’Est in Paris are variations of green, for example,while all Thalys routes are a shade of the rolling stock’s distinctive maroon. I find it particularly interesting how the initially homogeneous colours become more mixed the further from Paris you get, especially towards Marseille, where lines from all over France begin to converge towards their final destination.
It’s interesting to note that the equivalent diagram in America would consist of one route – the Acela Express from New York to Washington, DC – and even that barely qualifies as “high speed”. Fast by American standards, maybe…
But do note that these trains do not necessarily travel at their maximum speed (up to 300km/ per hour or 185 miles/hour) on all the routes shown. To attain these speeds, the trains have to run on specially-built tracks, which currently are only on the highest density parts of the system. However, all these routes use TGV/Eurostar/Thalys/ICE rolling stock, which is the criterion for inclusion on this diagram.
My favourite parts of the diagram include the grand loop around Paris to the east, the complex interplay of routes around Lille, and the subtle inclusion of the Winter routes to the French Alps without having to accord them an entire route from start to finish: more complexity is not what this diagram needs!
As always, comments are always welcome!Large JPG Preview of TGV Map Zoomable On-line Preview of TGV Map
Update: March 3rd, 2011: New version of the diagram with a new route added from Melun to Marseille (Don’t know how I missed that one!). Routes from Le Havre to Strasbourg and Cherbourg to Dijon were deleted, as these “experimental” (and poorly patronised) routes stopped running in December 2010. Winter services to Evian and Saint-Gervais also added. Finally, the station names have been made a little larger.
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.
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!
Presenting the latest in my series of transit-styled diagrams (see also the Interstate System in the style of the London Underground and a Washington, DC Metro map redesign), the entire Amtrak passenger rail system in the style of a subway map.
If there’s one thing I love, it’s a good Metro/Subway/Underground map. Some of them are design classics and really shouldn’t be messed with (London especially). Others have flaws, but are mostly tolerable (Boston not naming all stations on the Green Line really annoys me, but the rest of the diagram is quite well done).
And then there are the diagrams that I simply can’t abide.