Unofficial Map(s): Atlas of Italian Rail Transit by Andrea Spinosa
Occasionally, I get in a bit of a rut with Transit Maps – I feel like I’ve seen everything there is to see, or that I’m just treading water – and then something like this comes along that just blows me away.
This poster, designed by Andrea Spinosa of the CityRailways blog (in Italian), provides an incredible look at rail mass transit in Italy, and it’s simply superb.
The centre of the poster gives a country-wide overview, showing where the different urban networks are and the distribution of transit modes – Metro, commuter rail, regional rail, trams and even funiculars (which seem to be surprisingly popular in Italy!).
The real highlight for me, however, are the 15 maps around the edge of the poster that show the transit systems of different cities/regions around Italy. I’ve included images of four of these maps above. Not unlike Jug Cerovic’s INAT maps (April 2014), the new maps redraw these systems using one consistent style for everything, and it looks good. Pretty much all of them look better than their corresponding official map, especially Naples. The typeface used looks like our old friend, Neutraface. I particularly like all the custom icons for points of interest, including ones for Mt. Vesuvius and Mt. Etna, each drawn with the appropriate profile for each volcano.
There’s a lot to take in here, and I definitely recommend that you head on over to the CityRailways site and check the poster PDF out in full. Each of the city maps is also available as a separate, pocket-sized PDF that you can download and print out, or just put on your mobile device and use it that way. There are lots of other great maps to be found on the site as well.
Our rating: Brilliant, comprehensive and beautiful. I’d put this poster on my wall! Five stars!
Source: CityRailways site
Historical Map: Austrian Edition of Airey’s Railway Map of London, 1876
Simply beautiful rail line and junction map from the earliest days of what would become the London Underground. Extremely notable for its use of colour-coding to differentiate between the lines of all the different operating companies. In the days of chromolithographic printing, using this many different colours would have been an expensive, highly technical and time-consuming task.
The following text is taken from the raremaps.com description of this map:
Extremely rare early Austrian edition of John Airey’s famous Railway Junction Diagram of London (not in the British Library!).
The present map is an early Austrian edition of Airey’s most important single map, Airey’s Railway Map of London and its Suburbs, illustrating the innumerable railway lines leading out of London, and importantly depicting the earliest two lines of the new London Underground System, along with at least one proposed line which was never constructed. Airey published his first edition of the map under that title in 1875, which subsequently ran into several editions. It, in turn, was based on a map that appeared in Airey’s book, Railway Map Diagrams (London, 1867).
The map’s fascinating an innovative visual composition was originally conceived as part of a series of diagrams illustrating the rapidly expanding routes of the various railways throughout Britain. With its carefully placed and labeled colored lines, it is the true precursor to Henry Beck’s celebrated London Underground Map of 1933. In this sense, Airey’s maps were the first truly modern rail transport maps, and they set the gold standard for such publications throughout Europe and America.
London was the first major city to be served by railways (a technology invented in 1830), with the first line connecting London Bridge and Greenwich being completed in 1836. During the ‘Railway Boom’ of the 1840s, eight new lines were added connecting London with the countryside in virtually every direction. Since that time, two new major lines had been added and new spurs had been built to access different parts of the city. Airey was commissioned to produce his diagrams by the Railway Clearing House (RHC), founded in 1842, it acted as an umbrella organization to collect and manage revenue from the various independent railway lines.
Perhaps the most important aspects of the map are the inclusion of the World’s first two Underground (or Subway Lines), the Metropolitan Line and the Metropolitan District Line (the original components of today’s District and Circle Lines). The Metropolitan Line was first opened in January 1863, while the District Metropolitan was completed in December 1868. Airey’s diagram shows how the new medium of the Underground integrated with the established railways.
The map also records the proposed location for one of the early underground lines which was never constructed, the London Central Railway. The London Central Railway was formed in late 1871 for an unsuccessful north-south promotion sponsored by the Midland Railway and the South Eastern Railway, for a link between St Pancras and Charing Cross Stations. The name again surfaced In 1884, when a London Central Railway Company sought unsuccessfully for authority to build an electrically operated line from Trafalgar Square to St Martins-le-Grand via Oxford Circus and Oxford Street. This was intended to be an extension of the Charing Cross & Waterloo Electric Railway (now part of the Bakerloo line). This was authorized in 1882 but never built.
The present, apparently unrecorded, edition of the map, may have been first published in 1876 in Vienna by the publishing firm of R. v. Waldheim, a leading house specializing in newspapers, music books and lithographic prints. From the inscription in the upper-right corner, it seems that the present map was originally issued within a book. While it is not clear which publication it is, it is possible that the map was associated with a later edition of the rare work Die Concurrenz im Eisenbahnwesen, a railway book first published by Waldheim in 1873. In any event, it is a fascinating testament to the contemporary pan-European fascination with Airey’s groundbreaking cartography.
Our rating: Simply beautiful: detailed in scope, but amazingly clear and simple in execution. Five stars.
Image source: Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps Inc.
Recreated Historical Map: East Berlin S-Bahn, 1980 by Maxwell Roberts
What does noted alternate transit map designer Maxwell Roberts do when he comes across a rare postcard version of the East Berlin S-Bahn network from 1980?
He takes a photo of it, and then recreates it using modern design tools, of course.
Remember that the S-Bahn was still operated by the GDR even in West Berlin, although West Berliners boycotted the service for the most part, preferring their own U-Bahn network. The Staatsgrenze (state border) totally dominates even this supposedly “unified” service map, and it’s clear in a number of places where the border has cut a rail line neatly in two. The only place where interchange between the two halves of the system was even remotely possible was at Friedrichstrasse, and even then only after rigorous border screening.
The map itself is quite lovely — much nicer than this more well-known map from around the same time — with bright rainbow colours, restrained European typography (an East German alternate cut of Futura, as the original typeface was not available there at the time!), and nice mode differentiation.
Our rating: A superb restoration of an obscure but excellent map, both design-wise and historically. Five stars!
Source: The Atlantic Cities
Submission - Unofficial Map: Metro and Suburban Rail, Milan
Submitted by Dmitry Goloub, who says:
It all started when in Moscow was initiated a public tender for creation of a new, modern metro map. I was really excited and made an imaginary metro map for Florence (IRL there’s no metro).
But then I thought that I can do something really useful. A map for a real transport system that would be helpful, beautiful and clean.
I have completely redesigned the Milan Metro Map. I have added the latest updates with line M5, a grid with alphabetic list of stations, airports, I have created a new set of pictograms and packed them into a symbol font. I have created a completely new style that does not copy any other transport map in the world.
This map now has its own character, just like the city. The emphasis is put on the M lines however you can clearly understand how to use both M and S lines, how to get from point A to point B. The current official map just shows the S stations, it does not show to which line a station belongs.
I have excluded the regular railways (RFI) because they’re not a metropolitan transport.
Full project information and a PDF is here, free for download.
Transit Maps says:
Wow. This is absolutely beautiful work,and quite superior to the somewhat stuffy official map (March 2012, 3.5 stars).
Dimitry hits the nail on the head when he says this map now has a character that’s unique to the city, and its a look that feels appropriate for fashion-conscious, forward-looking Milan. Everything here is created especially for this map: the lovely custom icons, the square-yet-round station markers, and the stunning ribbon-like effect used for the suburban rail lines, which has a lovely rhythmical flow to it. Even the slight checkerboarding pattern used for the grid (alternating squares are tinted a little darker) — which could look clumsy if not handled well — is handled deftly and subtly.
Our rating: Hand-crafted excellence that suits its target city perfectly. 5 stars.
P.S. Seriously, are Russians the best transit map designers at the moment or what? This beautiful piece, Michael Kvrivishvili’s contest-winning MBTA map and Lebedev Studio’s Moscow Metro redesign. All such beautiful work and something for other designers to aspire to.
Official Map: Isometric JR West System Map
I’m not sure if I’ve ever been so completely, madly and totally in love with a transit map as I am with this. A giant, sprawling, isometric representation of much of Japan showing JR Group railway lines. The map is produced by the JR West company, and its operating area is shown in full detail within the green area (apart from the heavily urbanised areas around Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe, where — wisely — not all stations are shown). Connecting services and routes operated outside the JR West area are also shown, but in less detail — only major stations along the routes are indicated. Shinkansen lines are light blue, JR West main line routes are dark blue (main line routes outside their operating area match the company that operates in that area - red for JR Kyushu, for example), while urban routes seem to follow their established colour-coding.
As can be seen from the two detail images from the area around Osaka, there’s both an English and Japanese version of the map. The Japanese version is arguably more effective because of the in-built ability to set the text vertically, but the English version isn’t half bad either. I particularly like the way the line names have been set to conform to the isometric grid — a very nice design touch.
Our rating: I like to imagine that this is the world map from some incredible railroad-building computer game. 5 stars!
(Source: Official JR West website)
Historical Map: Tramways and Trolleybus Routes of Shanghai, 1939
At first glance, this appears to be a basic map outlining tram and trolleybus routes within Shanghai’s International Settlement, dated December 1939. It’s only when you read the legend that you start to realise the greater historical context of this map.
The statement that accompanies the dotted route lines in the legend simply states "No service in operation at present due to circumstances beyond the company’s control" — an massive understatement of the volatile situation in Shanghai at that time.
It’s just two years after the brutal Battle of Shanghai, and the Chinese parts of the city outside the International Settlement and French Concession are fully occupied by invading Japanese forces. Fighting between the Japanese and Chinese revolutionaries often spilled over the (supposedly neutral) settlements’ borders, which probably explains the reluctance of the transit company to guarantee service.
In 1941, the Japanese army entered and occupied the International Settlement in the immediate aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor — the long-running Sino-Japanese war was now absorbed into the Pacific front of World War II.
Our rating: Not an amazing map of itself, but the history that it hints at is fascinating and deserves to be better known. 5 stars!
Historical Map: Diagram of Tube Services, 7:00am, September 28, 1940
Here’s a fantastic historical document — a tube map used by engineers in London to mark out the status of services on the Underground during World War II. By the look of it, this map was updated at least daily, if not even more often, as this date falls squarely within the Blitz — a period where London was bombed for 57 consecutive nights by the Luftwaffe.
The map itself looks like a modified hand-drawn version of H.C. Beck’s 1936 Tube Diagram, with all stations shown as circles and some main line track added as well. The use of the map is simple: a red line along track shows that there is no service along that segment, while a blue circle (seen between Belsize Park and Chalk Farm, for example) indicates the location of an exploded bomb. It would also seem that the circle for a station is also coloured red if it is substantially damaged or destroyed. Most horrifying of all, a red cross marks the location of an unexploded bomb. Notes written in a beautiful, precise hand add detail to these symbols where necessary — “unsafe buildings”, “single tunnel only available for traffic: SB tunnel damaged by bomb”.
Our rating: An incredible historical document that vividly recalls the dangers and horrors faced by Londoners during the Blitz. 5 stars!
Historical Map: “Explore the Yorkshire Coast” Poster, c. 1950s
Simply gorgeous mid-century poster designed for British Rail’s North Eastern Division by the prolific graphic artist, E. Lander. Yorkshire has never looked better, or so warm… look at all those people in bathing suits frolicking in the hot sun!
The simplified map suits the angular design of the underlying painted scene perfectly, a real synthesis of design and art coming together as a cohesive whole.
The section of line between Pickering and Whitby via Grosmont is today preserved as the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, with the beautiful station at Goathland the highlight. Depending on your age, you might recognise it from Simply Red’s video clip for “Holding Back the Years” in 1985, as Aidensfield station in the long-running British TV series Heatbeat, or even as Hogsmeade station from the Harry Potter movies.
Our rating: Simply stunning. They don’t make ‘em like this any more. 5 stars!
(Source: National Railway Museum/Flickr)
Update: More Process Work Behind the New Moscow Metro Map
As we reported late last month, the new Art Lebedev Studios Moscow Metro map is now in use around the system and on trains.
One thing that the studio has been fantastic at right from the start is documenting the creative process, and they’re not finished yet. Over on their website is a wealth of behind the scenes information that shows how much work has been put into these beautiful maps.
The map had to be adapted to fit six types of train carriages, each with different requirements, so the design team made field trips armed with printouts to ensure that everything fitted perfectly. Multiple iterations of the wheelchair-accessible symbol were created, to ensure that it had the same visual weight as the parking symbol that often appears next to it. Allowances for prescribed advertising space was made. The “Rules of the Ride”, prescribed by law, were made attractive and easier to read and separated from the map itself to make the usable space for the actual map larger. Icons were tweaked, revised, and discarded. Even once the design was finalised, there was still multiple rounds of proofing and corrections before the map went live.
Seriously, if you’re at all interested in the design and production of transit maps, you must read this case study. It’s currently in Russian, but Google Chrome/Translate does a pretty good job of at least giving you a good idea of what the plentiful pictures are showing.
First bonus: the map is available as a vector Adobe Illustrator file for download (EPS, 9.8MB) — free for use by individuals or businesses as long as Lebedev Studios are credited.
Second bonus: At the bottom of the process page is a scrubbable 41-image version of the map that animates the entire history of the Moscow Metro from 1935, all drawn in the style of the new map. Beautiful work!
Unofficial Map: London Underground Map Recreated Entirely in CSS
Even though I’m mainly a print designer, I’ve done enough web design work to know how fiddly (yet also powerful) Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) can be. That’s why I’m totally in awe of this incredibly accurate rendition of the Tube Map, created with nothing but code by John Galatini. Not one image file to be seen! Johnston Sans is recreated with a web font, while the symbols for accessibility, National Rail, ferries, the Emirates Airline, etc. seen on the map are all “drawn” completely with CSS code. John estimates that the project took around 120 hours to complete, and I can believe him!
While the project’s website gives some great technical information on how the map was achieved, I prefer John’s own description on Twitter:
“It’s basically lots of rectangles and squares, lots of border-radius (to create circles) and a shit load of css rotation.”
Our rating: An astounding example of what CSS can do. Five stars!
(Source: CSS Tube website)