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)
Future Minneapolis & St. Paul Transit Map
After several months in development, I’m proud to present to you the Future Twin Cities Transit Map. A comprehensive summary of current rapid transit proposals, this version shows all existing and future light rail & BRT lines as well as select major bus routes, commuter rail and HSR connections. Detailed summary of transit improvements available at MetroTransit’s homepage.
In 2030, Twin Cities are expected to join the likes of Chicago, Curitiba and Copenhagen in operating an efficient, reliable, and extensive transit network. Take a peek at the future!
Download, Print, Share, Modify…
No project is ever complete, so I would welcome anyone to use it as a template for their own mapping project!
The map is published under a Creative Commons license(Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike).This means sharing and making copies is not just allowed but strongly encouraged.
Comments / questions? Just ask!
Transit Maps says:
I’ve been following this project with interest for quite a while now, and all I can say now that it’s completed is: WOW!
This is a transit map designed to inspire future riders. It’s beautifully designed, technically excellent (I’ve pulled apart the PDF in Illustrator to get a good look under the hood), and — quite frankly — puts a lot of official transit maps produced in the U.S. to absolute shame.
What I love most is the crystal-clear informational hierarchy: thick, coloured lines represent rapid transit, be it LRT or BRT. Regardless of the mode, service comes frequently (9 to 12 minute headways) and the vehicles move quickly. Grey lines (lower in the hierarchy) show arterial bus service, with line thickness neatly representing service frequency. Beneath this, the I-494/694 ring is subtly shown for orientation, and the geography is rendered in a style that complements the routes beautifully. The legend is clear and easy to use, and the colour scheme for the whole map gives it a very sophisticated, modern feel.
Finally, the icons used on the map are excellent from top to bottom, from the distinctive segmented interchange markers, down to the tiny airport, commuter rail and Amtrak icons. Fantastic attention to detail is evident here.
Our rating: Everything I love about modern transit map design. Five stars!
Book Review: “Vignelli Transit Maps”, Peter B. Lloyd with Mark Ovenden
As a graphic designer with a keen interest in transit maps and a fairly thorough knowledge of their history and usage, I thought I had a decent understanding of Massimo Vignelli’s diagrammatic version of the New York Subway map, which was used from 1972 to 1979.
This outstanding book has proved me almost completely and utterly wrong.
So much of what we think we know about the Vignelli map is simply hearsay and legend, repeated Chinese whisper-style across the internet, until we’re left with something that almost, but not quite, resembles the truth. Fueled by excellent research and interviews, and presented with beautiful (if occasionally a little small) maps, photos and illustrations, this book is essential for any lover of transit maps and good graphic design.
More than anything else I’ve read, this book places the Vignelli map in a proper historical context — what preceded it and why that left the door open for a modernist design firm (rather than cartographers) to produce something new, but also what led to its abrupt and premature death in 1979. There’s definitely more to the story than the usual “New Yorkers didn’t like a diagram/square Central Park/beige water” reasons that you often hear.
As well as a thorough analysis of the map itself — reproductions and accompanying text are presented for every version of the map — the book also delves deeply into the labour-intensive and time-consuming production methods required to create a map as complex as this in the days before computer-aided design. Asked to come up with an initial conceptual “trial map” in 1970, junior designer Joan Charysyn (who also independently created this New York Commuter Rail diagram in 1974) had to hand-cut pieces of PANTONE colour film into 1/8” strips and then assemble the route lines onto a one-foot-square board, adding station label type as well. Of the work, Charysyn simply states, “the execution of the comp was tedious and done in as few pieces as possible.”
The book also deals with Vignelli’s work for the Washington, DC Metro: he designed the wayfinding and station signage that is still largely in use today, but the contract for the system map was given separately to Lance Wyman. The book shows some of Vignelli’s very early (and very minimalist!) conceptual sketches for the map, and explains exactly why Lance Wyman’s proposed station icons (similar to the ones he had designed for Mexico City’s Metro) never got off the ground.
The book also discusses the reintroduction of the Vignelli map in 2008, comparing and contrasting it against the other modern player in the New York Subway map market — Eddie Jabbour’s Kick Map (Jabbour writes a preface for the book, and his admiration for Vignelli’s design philosophy and body of work is obvious).
This book is absolutely essential for any lover or student of transit maps or graphic design. It’s well written, thoroughly researched and beautiful to look at: what more do you need? Five stars!
Published by RIT Press, December 2012. 128pp.
Order page is here — Book is $US34.99 plus shipping.
(Note: Transit Maps purchased their own copy of this book, and did not receive any compensation for this review, financial or otherwise)
Official Map: Fujikyuko Line, Japan
And now for something completely different… possibly the strangest official map I’ve ever seen (but oh so Japanese!). This map is for the privately-run Fujikyuko Line in in Yamanashi Prefecture, between Ōtsuki station and Kawaguchiko Station in Fujikawaguchiko.
The line runs through mountainous country and has spectacular views of Mount Fuji… hence the cute anthropomorphic mountains, I’m guessing. Which, awesomely, also carry across onto the livery of the rolling stock as well.
Despite the overall weirdness of the map, it actually works quite well: the thick red line shows express service, and the black and white dashed line shows local trains. Easy!
Our rating: Five stars for being unique, very strange and altogether awesome.
Historical Map: Birds-Eye View of Chicago, 1908
Courtesy of the always amazing Big Map Blog (you really should follow them on Tumblr and Twitter), here’s an incredible birds-eye view of Chicago and its elevated railways from 1908. More than anything, I love the minute attention to detail on this - smoke curls from factory chimneys, almost every tree in the city’s parks seems to be present. Of particular note is the spur line out to Union Stock Yards, the self-proclaimed “butchery capital of the world”. So many worked at the yards that this line was an absolute necessity to move them in and out.
Our rating: Incredible attention to detail combined with a breathtaking viewpoint make this compelling. 5 stars!
(Source: Big Map Blog)
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!
Historical Map: Tokyo by Richard Saul Wurman, 1984
Thanks to Twitter follower @chrishelenius for bringing this amazing map by Richard Saul Wurman (founder of the TED Conference amongst other things) to my attention. In the course of research for this post, I also discovered that Mr. Wurman was responsible for these beautiful maps of Philadelphia from the book Man-Made Philadelphia: still the most-visited post on Transit Maps by far.
But onto the map itself.
Firstly, this is not a map of the Tokyo subway, as many commentaries that I have come across state. It actually shows two lines of the JR East rapid transit network that very cleverly help to define “Tokyo”: the circular loop Yamanote Line, and the cross-town Chūō-Sōbu Line. The stations along the Yamanote Line all have points of interest listed, while the Imperial Palace complex is shown for reference within the circle.
Secondly, this is beautiful. Abstracted, clarified, simplified information. Five stars.
Historical Map: Paris Metro Map, 1956
Transit maps today are created on computer, and printed with advanced technology. We think nothing of using many different colours, adding a drop shadow behind type, adding a gradient to the background, transparency effects - all things that state-of-the-art design software makes perhaps a little too easy.
As a contrast to these glitzy new-fangled maps, I present an antidote: a simply stunning, beautiful and ever-so-French map of the Paris Metro from 1956. It’s printed with just two colours, but a clever use of hatching and stippling allows the city limits, forests and the Seine to be shown with absolute clarity and elegant simplicity.
Have we been there? Yes, just not in 1956.
What we like: Elegant and simple. The two colours are beautifully selected and match each other perfectly and serve the purpose of the map well. Typography is gorgeous, with the suburb names - set in an elegant script - particularly standing out. Discreet numbering of the lines allows you to trace them relatively easily, even though they’re all the same colour. Historical interest with the inclusion of the gold Ligne de Sceaux - a line owned by the RATP that ran on a completely different gauge and with different rolling stock to the rest of the Metro. Much of it is now incorporated into RER Line B.
What we don’t like: Incredibly minor nitpick: the ornate compass rose looks a little at odds with the stylish simplicity of the rest of the map.
Our rating: A shining example of simple, elegant, usable mid- 20th century design. Every element of this map serves a purpose. Does more with two colours than many modern maps achieve with unlimited colours. 5 stars!
Historical Map: PATH Map, New York and New Jersey, 1979
After all the diagrammatic maps we’ve featured so far, it’s nice to showcase something completely different - check out this awesome painted birds-eye view of PATH services between New Jersey and Manhattan from 1979. It also shows other rail services in New Jersey snaking off into the far distance, and even Lady Liberty standing guard over New York and the cutest little Staten Island ferry you ever did see.
Have we been there? Yes, but I haven’t caught a PATH train.
What we like: Just about everything! Attractive, historical, useful… this one’s got it all in spades.
What we don’t like: Not a lot!
Our rating: Fantastic! Its strangely distorted perspective reminds me of the famous 1976 New Yorker cover of the view of America from downtown Manhattan. Five stars!