Delightful three-dimensional representation of daily passenger numbers on Frankfurt’s streetcar lines in the early 20th century. Each strip of wood represents 4,000 passengers: the higher the wood, the more passengers on that section of line!

The figure is from Willard C. Brinton’s Graphic Methods for Presenting Facts, first published in 1914 and widely regarded as the first book on data visualization best practices. You can read the book on



It’s not easy to show passenger numbers on a transit network. But in 1914 all you need to do is use wood, as above, or strips of metal!

Historical Maps: Surface Trolley Lines and Elevated/Subway Lines of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company, 1913

A superb pair of maps that depict the trolley lines (top) and elevated and subway lines (bottom) of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit (BRT) Company as they would appear after the work specified in the famous “Dual Contracts" agreement was completed. Much of today’s existing subway system came about because of this contract, as can be seen from the red (proposed) lines on the lower map.

For me, the top map is even more interesting — it shows how incredibly dense the trolley system in Brooklyn was at the time.

(Source: University of Texas Library map collection)

  1. Camera: i2s Digibook Scanner Suprascan A0 10000 RGB

Historical Map: Lines of the Denver City Tramway, 1913

While we applaud the Denver Regional Transportation District’s current FasTracks program, which is rapidly building a comprehensive light rail and commuter rail system in the Mile High City, it’s sobering to look at a map like this and realise that 100 years ago, Denver already had a comprehensive transit system. It’s a story repeated across America — Denver, Los Angeles, Portland, Minneapolis/St. Paul and more.

(Source: University of Texas Libraries Map Collection)

  1. Camera: i2s Digibook Scanner Suprascan A0 10000 RGB

Historical Map: Paris Métro, 1913

Yes, another post about the Paris Métro. I’d stop doing it if I stopped finding really interesting maps! This one is from way back in 1913, and is purportedly the first Métro map to use different colours for each of the lines and the first one to have strip plans for each of them as well.

Another thing to note is that this is a mere thirteen years after the Métro opened - and there’s already eight Métro lines, plus the competing Nord-Sud line (which would later become lines 12 and 13). Try doing that with all the alternatives analyses and environmental documentation that would be required today!

Finally, the map features one more remarkable thing: Paris is still entirely encircled by an enormous defensive wall, the Thiers Wall, the last in a series of fortifications around the city. The wall was constructed from 1841-1844 as the “ultimate defense” and demolished between 1919 and 1929 because of utter obsolescence. The location of this wall corresponds exactly to the Boulevard Périphérique of today, and the names of some Métro stations still note the location of gates through the wall - Porte Dauphine, Porte de Champerret, Porte de Bagnolet, Porte des Lilas, Porte de Clignancourt, etc.

Have we been there? Yes, just not in 1913.

What we like: Just an amazing slice of early Métro history. The co-existence of almost obsolete C19th fortifications and cutting-edge early C20th technology is a little mind-blowing, to be honest.

What we don’t like: The map itself is hard work to read, although this is mitigated somewhat by the inclusion of the strip maps for each line.

Our rating: Awesome. 5 stars!

5 Stars!

(Source: sandmarg.etsy/Flickr)