Unofficial Map: Washington DC Metro Map by Peter Dovak
An interesting approach to an alternative DC Metro map by Peter Dovak, who previously submitted this fantasy light rail map of Louisville, Kentucky.
There’s quite a bit to like here: I love the circular abstraction of the beltway highway around DC, which is then centred perfactly around the District diamond. Peter’s even made sure that the “square” formed by the three main interchange stations — Metro Center, Gallery Place and L’Enfant Plaza — sits at the exact centre of the diamond/circle, which is a nice design touch. He’s also worked hard to ensure that stations retain their correct position relative to all the boundaries (be they roadway or jurisdictional), which isn’t an easy thing to do.
Less successful, I feel, is the use of 30/60 degree angles for the route lines. While it gives more flexibility in layout, it just ends up looking a little too chaotic when overlaid on the 45-degree angles of the District boundary. Like it or not, this diamond is the shape that defines the District (and the map!): too many angles fights against that shape and dilutes its visual strength. The naturalistic approach taken to the rivers and parkland also creates even more angles that pull the eye different directions. The least successful result of this approach to route lines is the nasty acute angle formed on the southern branch of the Green Line as it turns to follow the District border through the Southern Avenue station.
I like the idea behind the station symbols acting as “ticks” pointing towards their labels, but I feel the white rounded rectangle needs to be brought in from the edge of the “non-tick” side just a little bit. The way it sits right on the edge of the route line at the moment breaks up the flow of the lines and could also cause some problems when printing the map.
Peter’s used the “subtitle” approach to station names that first appeared in a couple of the entries to the Greater Greater Washington map contest and has since migrated to the official map — a fantastic concept, and definitely the right approach. However, he’s also deleted parts of names in certain cases: U Street has lost its “African American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo” subtitle completely. While this definitely saves space and helps labels fit, it’s a huge no-no. Lobby groups have worked hard to give stations those ridiculously long names, and they’re not going to like it if you remove them!
While on the subject of labels, Peter always spells out “Street” and “Road” in station names, but uses “Ave”, “Blvd” or “Sq”. I’d prefer either all spelled out or all abbreviated, not a combination of both.
In the end, this is an interesting alternate take on the DC Metro map. Some ideas work really well, others less so, but the thought processes behind them are valid and considered. For me, this map is a step up in both concept and execution from Peter’s Louisville map.
Amended Tube Map removes Embankment Interchange for 2014 Works
Even design classics like the London Tube map have to be flexible enough to cope with change. The escalators to the Northern and Bakerloo lines at Embankment station — yes, the very escalators that can be seen in the previously posted cutaway diagram from 1914 — are going to be completely replaced.
The process is going to take 43 weeks starting on January 8 next year. During that time, Northern and Bakerloo trains will pass through Embankment without stopping, as there simply won’t be a way to get from their platforms to the surface or to the District/Circle Line platforms.
As a result, Embankment has been temporarily downgraded from an interchange ring on the map to a station tick, and moved away from the intersection between all the routes. It’s had to be moved quite a distance, because “Embankment” is quite a long name (no hyphenation of names on the Tube map!). As a result, Temple has been moved off the horizontal section of the District/Circle line and placed on the 45-degree segment along with Blackfriars, Mansion House and Cannon Street.
I personally don’t think that Temple needed to be moved off the horizontal section: Embankment and Temple could clearly be evenly spaced across the horizontal section — Embankment below the line, Temple above — without any confusion, as the station ticks would clearly “point” to their respective stations. Embankment’s label might have to slightly to the right compared to its tick, but it would be no worse than the placement of Westminster’s label. With these two stations on the horizontal segment, Blackfriars, Mansion House and Cannon Street could all retain their usual positions: I think this would create more even, harmonious spacing of all the stations than the map shown here.
Apparently, this map is appearing on some Northern Line trains but hasn’t been updated on the TfL site yet (and shouldn’t be until the work commences).
(Source: Tweet by Ian Jones — @metro_land)
Historical Diagram: Charing Cross/Embankment Tube Station Cutaway, 1914
Simply stunning cutaway cross-section of the London Tube station now known as Embankment in 1914. This drawing shows the station just after the opening of the new deep tube extension of the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway (now part of the Northern Line) from their previous terminus to the north at Charing Cross station. The extension was a single line that headed south from Charing Cross, looped back around underneath the Thames and had a single platform heading northbound here at Embankment.
The diagram shows the C+E&H tube at the bottom right: it looks like a train has just left, heading back northwards to Charing Cross. To the left, the twin tubes of the Bakerloo line can be seen. Above, the shallow cut-and-cover tunnel of the District line runs at right angles to the deeper lines, built into the actual river embankment from which the station received its name. Above them all sits the grand old Charing Cross main line railway station, with The Strand just visible at its far end (a helpful caption, “This is The Strand”, points the way).
More than anything, it’s the detail of this cutaway that I like the most. Busy people enter and exit the station, read newspapers and ride the escalators between levels. A double-decker omnibus and Edwardian car can be seen chugging along the street, and trains belch steam in the station above. Advertisements adorn the walls, and the red carriages of the Tube fairly rattle along the tracks. An early version of the Underground roundel – a red circle with a blue bar across it – can be seen above the station’s building and on the District line platform.
If the naming of the station seems a little confusing, that’s because it was. In 1914, the District line platforms were named Charing Cross (for the main line station almost directly above), while the two separate deep tube lines were both called Embankment. The C+E&H station directly to the north, which was previously just Charing Cross, became Charing Cross (Strand). By 1915, everyone had had enough of this nonsense and all the platforms at this station took on the District line name of Charing Cross, while Charing Cross (Strand) became simply Strand. At the same time, the separate Strand station on the Piccadilly line was renamed as Aldywch to prevent even more confusion.
In June 1973, the newer Northern line Strand station was closed to allow construction of Jubilee line platforms. These platforms were constructed between the Bakerloo line and Northern line platforms together with the long-missing below-ground interchange between those two lines. In anticipation of the new interchange station, Charing Cross (this station) was renamed Charing Cross Embankment. The Jubilee line platforms and the refurbished Northern line platforms opened in May 1979, when the combined station (including Trafalgar Square on the Bakerloo line) was given its current name of Charing Cross; simultaneously, Charing Cross Embankment (this station) reverted to its original name – Embankment.
(Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Official Map: New York/New Jersey Regional Transit Diagram — Full Review
After our first glimpse yesterday, now it’s time for a more in-depth look at this map. Thanks to everyone who sent me a link to the PDF (and there were more than a few of you)!
First things first: this MTA press release confirms that the map was designed by Yoshiki Waterhouse of Vignelli Associates. It’s definitely nice to see that the original creators of the diagram continue to shape its future, rather than being handed off to another design team.
That said, the original source that this map is based off — the 2008 revision of Vignelli’s classic 1970s diagram, as used on the MTA’s “Weekender” service update website — actually creates some problems for this version of the map.
Because the bright primary colours used for the Subway’s many route lines are so much a part of the map’s look (and indeed, the very fabric of the Subway itself, appearing on signage and trains across the entire system) it forces the NJ Transit, PATH and Amtrak routes shown to be rendered in muted pastel tones in order to differentiate them from the Subway. This results in a visual imbalance between the New York and New Jersey sides of the map: cool and muted on the left, bright and bold to the right. I also feel that the PATH lines up to 33rd Street become a little “lost” compared to the adjacent subway lines.
The other result of using pastel route lines is a loss of contrast between all those lines: they all register at a similar visual intensity, making them a little harder to differentiate. Because of the sheer number of lines that have to be shown, some of the NJ Transit routes have lost their “traditional” colour as used on their own official map (Nov. 2011, 1.5 stars). The Bergen County Line is no longer light blue, but the same yellow as the Main Line, while the Gladstone Line now uses the same green as the Morristown Line. Their original colours get redistributed to New Jersey’s light rail lines and Amtrak.
Some people have noticed that the map shows weekday off-peak services and commented that this is useless for the Super Bowl, which is held on a Sunday. However, the map has to be useful for the entire week of Super Bowl festivities, not just game day, so I feel it’s doing the best it can under the circumstances. If it really bothers you, @TheLIRRToday on Twitter has made a quick and dirty version of the map that shows weekend service patterns. As as has been pointed out to me, service on Super Bowl Weekend will be close to that of the weekday peak, so the difference is negligible anyway.
What bothers me is the fact that the football icon has an extra row of laces. NFL balls have eight rows of laces — the icon shows nine.
Our rating: Based on the classic Vignelli diagram. While it remains true to its minimalist roots, it doesn’t reach the heights of its predecessors. The need to integrate so many different routes and services while retaining familiar route colours for the Subway mean that the left half of the map isn’t as visually strong as the right. Still far better than many North American transit maps. It would also make a neat souvenir of a trip to the Super Bowl! Three stars.
(Source: NJ Transit “First Mass Transit Super Bowl" web page — also available on the MTA website)
Tutorial: Station Labels Using the “Core Type Area” - Part 4: Intersecting Route Lines
Here’s the last of my tutorials regarding station label placement – what to do when route lines intersect each other. There are three standard ways that orthogonal route lines can cross each other, each illustrated above.
Horizontal and Vertical Lines: The simplest intersection to deal with. Simply keep the same distance from the side and top/bottom of your label for consistent results.
Vertical Line Intersecting an Angled Line (or a Horizontal Line/Angled Line): This one’s a little trickier and a lot of it comes down to personal design preference. In the example shown, keep labels the standard distance away from the vertical route line, but move the labels down or up to nestle them into the 135-degree angle created by the intersecting lines better. I’ve used the intersection point of the two lines to create a guide to align the distance guide to, and it works well. Experiment and see what works for you. If we were dealing with a horizontal line intersecting an angled line, we’d keep the standard distance to the top/bottom and move the labels left/right to get the right visual spacing.
Two Angled Lines Intersecting: This is probably my least favoured label type, because it simply has to break the spacing conventions that I normally use. Because you need adequate space between the top and bottom of the Core Type Area and the angled route lines, you have to move the type at least twice as far away from the route lines as you normally would. It still looks visually correct most of the time, but be wary of overusing this type of label.
Official Map: New York/New Jersey Regional Transit Diagram for 2014
Hot off the presses via New Jersey Transit’s Twitter account, here’s a first look at a new regional transit map that (finally!) combines New Jersey Transit rail, PATH rail and the New York Subway onto one map to “facilitate ease of travel between all three systems”.
It appears to be heavily based off the Massimo Vignelli “Weekender” diagram, although I don’t know if Vignelli himself (or his studio) was actually involved in the design of this diagram. I’ll try and track down a PDF of the actual map to do a full review.
Here’s a question from Didier that’s a little outside the normal boundaries of this blog, but I think I’ve got a couple of ideas on the subject…
Hi Cam, What is the best way to hang a map on a wall? I don’t really want to frame it, but I don’t think pins would be/look great. How do you hang maps on your walls? Thanks and your work is amazing.
Transit Maps says:
Thanks for the kind words, Didier! Framing a map always looks awesome, but it can get expensive quickly, especially if you’re including a matte or framing a large piece. You’re also right that pins aren’t the nicest way to attach a map to a wall: they put holes in the paper and look pretty ugly, too.
If you’re able to use screws in your walls (if you’re renting, you may or may not be able to do this, depending on your lease/landlord), then I highly recommend that you head to IKEA and pick up a pack of Digitnet curtain wire. It’s basically 16 feet (5 metres) of strong wire that you can cut to the required length and then secure to your wall with the supplied fittings. It’s meant to hold up lightweight curtains, so it’s definitely more than strong enough to support a few posters. Then, just get some nice clips that you can hang over the wire to hang your maps from. The image above shows this setup in my house: it works perfectly, looks great, and only takes about 15 minutes to set up.
(For those who are wondering, the poster is one of Andrew “Vanshnookenraggen” Lynch’s fantastic New York Subway Line maps.)
If you can’t use screws, then you’ll need to find a way to secure the poster to the wall that doesn’t show from the front: this could be adhesive strips, Blu-Tack, double-sided tape, or even the old-fashioned loop of packing tape. If you do use one of these, then I strongly advise that you first apply a strip of packing tape to each corner of the back of your poster first. This will both strengthen the poster and protect it from any residue left behind by the adhesion method.
Any other map-mounting ideas?
Submission – Unofficial/Future Map: Long Island Rail Road by Anthony Denaro
Submitted by Anthony, who says:
Here’s my map of Off-Peak (weekdays, and nights) and Weekends Long Island Rail Road Service.
This map shows service diagrammatically, de-emphasizing geography for clarity of branch services and transfers, introduces a grouping color coding system for branches, and improves legibility of the system. The LIRR current map lacks both routing and geographic info – there’s no sense of connecting roads and services and no sense of which branch’s trains stop at which station – failing at each of the things that most transit maps try to resolve at least one of.
This map shows the future expansion to Grand Central Terminal which potentially will allow all branches to have direct access to both Penn and GCT – greatly changing the service patterns of the entire system. This could be a tool to better visualize how LIRR service will be affected when that happens. There’s yet been no indication of just what the service patterns will be so I choose just to split Penn Station and GCT-bound lines for now.
Love to hear your take on it.
Transit Maps says:
While I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the information shown (not being at all familiar with the operations of the LIRR), I can say that this map looks absolutely gorgeous. Certainly better than the official map, which just uses the standard MTA subway map style to lesser effect.
I really like the stylish usage of 30/60-degree angles: it looks great, suits the shape of Long Island itself, and allows all the labels to be set horizontally, even along the long stretches of the Babylon and Montauk branches. Labelling like this would be trickier on a conventional 45-degree diagram, as these branches would run horizontally across the map. Skillfully and elegantly done.
The colour palette is also very nice: a step back from the bright primaries often used on transit maps, giving the map a nicely understated, refined feeling. The zone information is also deftly handled: subsidiary to the main route information, but easily found when needed.
I’m not so thrilled with the treatment of the coastline: it seems overly detailed in some parts, resulting in a distracting “stepped” appearance in some parts, especially along the Atlantic coastline at the bottom of the map. It’s not bad, per se, it just seems to clash a little with the elegant simplicity of the route lines.
The station labels from Carle Place to Bethpage in the middle of the map seem to be a little close to the route lines – perhaps Anthony has moved them inadvertently, as most other labels seem to be fine. As readers of this blog know, I’m a big stickler for accurate and consistent placement of labels!
Finally, I’m not really sure that a guide to service frequency is of much use when the two categories are "one or more trains an hour" and "fewer than one train an hour". How many trains an hour could that be for the former? Two, three… more? And are you waiting an hour and a half between trains in the latter category, or even longer? It seems to me that you’d still have to consult a timetable to ensure that you caught your train in any case. I guess it works to give a general idea that some branches have less frequent service… any LIRR riders want to weigh in on this?
Our rating: Love the layout and design of the route lines, not so keen on the underlying geographical treatment. Still pretty darn good. Three-and-a-half stars.
For more detailed information on this map, please visit Anthony’s Tumblr.
Historical Map: Tyne and Wear Metro, 1981
A beautiful early map for this system, clearly showing how much of it was planned from the start. Apart from a few name changes (the proposed “Old Fold” station became Gateshead Stadium, for example), this is recognisably the same map that existed as far into the future as the year 2000, when the proposed extension to Sunderland made its appearance.
The outlined route lines to show proposed/future extensions work wonderfully well, making an excellent contrast to the existing coloured routes. The approach is even carried through to outlining the names of the proposed stations — a lovely and deft design touch.
Another interesting feature is how small and low in the visual hierarchy the ferry across the River Tyne is: in later maps, the ferry symbol has become very large and overpowering.
Our rating: The original and the best. Simple, stylish, uncluttered design that sets out a clear vision for the future. Four stars.
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Interstates as Subway Map
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Boston Rapid Transit and Bus Routes
Boston Rapid Transit Routes (no buses)
Amtrak Passenger Routes as Subway Map
International E-Roads of Europe
TGV Routes of France
Rail Transit of Portland, Oregon
Passenger Rail of Portland 1915 - 1943 - 2015
Plans for the New York Subway, 1920
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