Historical Map: The City of Los Angeles Showing Railway Systems, 1906
Another amazing old map from the awesome Big Map Blog, showing the already-booming rail transit network that was found in Los Angeles in the early days of the 20th Century. Electric trolleys first ran in LA in 1877, but the “Red Cars” of the Pacific Electric and the “Yellow Cars” of the narrow-gauge Los Angeles Railway had only appeared a mere five years before this map was produced. Their lines are represented on the map in appropriate colours, along with those of other, less-remembered, railway companies.
Technically, the map is beautifully drawn, although there’s some strange issues with route lines extending past the visible area of the map and spilling over the lists of street names, the map’s legend and even completely bleeding off the edge of the page (see the detail view of the legend above for an example). It could be intentionally done, but it certainly looks a little messy.
From a production viewpoint, it seems as though the map was printed with five different inks: black for the street name legend and Los Angeles Pacific RR routes, yellow for the Los Angeles RR, red for the Pacific Electric, green for the Los Angeles Inter-Urban RR, and a dark blue for the Los Angeles & Redondo RR and the underlying linework of the map itself. Understandably, given the fairly primitive printing technology of the day, the registration of these colours is a little bit off in places.
Our rating: A beautiful look at the early days of mass transit in LA. Four stars!
(Source: the Big Map Blog)
Wonderfully immersive visual history of transit in San Francisco. As the blurb on the site says:
The history of San Francisco’s transit system can be traced back as far as 1873, when the first cable car began service. Tales of technological advances, natural disasters, political struggles, and triumphant celebrations color its 140-year history and shape it into a system today that’s uniquely diverse and uniquely San Francisco.
Definitely worth losing a few hours to!
BART Map Mosaic, Near MacArthur Station
An altogether lovely little piece of public art on an otherwise unremarkable trash can. Interestingly, this simple little map still attempts to show the part-time service on the Richmond/Millbrae line south of Daly City.
(Source: Jef Poskanzer/Flickr)
Historical Map: Bay Area Connections Map, 1981
Submitted by Alex Jonlin, who says:
I saw this at the Fremont BART Station a couple weeks ago. It’s labeled (in tiny print at the top) “September 1981.” I have no idea how it ended up staying for so long, but it’s interesting to see how the transit system has changed since then. I also like the concept of depicting long-distance rail and long-distance buses just about the same - it shows people that the Bay Area’s transit network extends beyond where just the BART and Caltrain go.
Transit Maps says:
Another fine entry in the “hopelessly out-of-date map” genre — 31 years and still counting!
This really is one of my favourite categories of transit maps. So much so, that I’ve introduced a new tag just for them: out of date. This applies to maps that are still located at active stops or vehicles only — maps in transit museums or used as movie/TV show props don’t count. Anyone got any examples from their local transit system?
Submission — Unofficial Historical Map: Los Angeles Pacific Electric Railway Diagram, 1917
Drawn and submitted by Sam Huddy, who says:
Pacific Electric: Challenge Accepted!
When I read your disappointment on the uselessness of that beautiful map of the Pacific Electric at its peak in 1917 (not 1920), I wondered if it was possible to create a simplified London Underground-style map. With over a hundred routes it seemed impossible, but after several attempts, this was my end result. Any further information is on the map itself.
Transit Maps says:
Basically, this is incredible. An absolute model of simplicity and clarity of information, and it’s all drawn by hand onto some graph paper!
Breaking the multitude of routes up simply by their final downtown destination — either 6th and Main or 4th and Hill — works very well, and the “local services” insets are perfect for a map of this colossal scale: local route information can be easily found by those who need it, but those routes don’t clog the main map up with tiny detail, either. Perhaps the location of the inset boxes could be called out on the main map to aid those unfamiliar with the area, but that’s a very minor quibble.
As an added bonus, Sam has even dated the original map more precisely than any other source that I’ve seen. “Circa 1920” is now definitively dated to 1917, because his research found that some of the shuttle lines shown on this map and the original were abandoned after then.
Our rating: I feel like I could take this sketch and turn it into final computer-generated artwork in less than a day, it’s that good. Astounding work! Four-and-a-half stars!
(Source: Sam Huddy — Check the map out BIG on Flickr to see all the details!)
BART System Map
Lovely minimalist photo of the platform at North Berkeley BART station. But where is everbody?
Los Angeles Rail Maps
Great photo showing how the LA Metro maps are part of a larger, unified, wayfinding system. Consistency of typography and brand are key — note how the titles of each map are in the same location and typeface every time, as is the Metro logo: colour is the main differentiator of information.
Unofficial Map: San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit, 2011
This post comes about because of a Tumblr Mail (go, on ask me something!) from an anonymous follower, who says:
“Any idea if a unified San Francisco transit map exists somewhere out there, perhaps a la the Portland one? SF has to have one of the more confusing transit systems in the country, what with Caltrain + BART + Muni + cable cars + the F line.”
As it happens, there are plenty of unofficial maps showing both just the City of San Francisco and the greater Bay Area.
This one, from sfcityscape.com, is definitely one of the best. It shows BART, Muni Metro, the F line, Caltrain, and more. The only rail transit it doesn’t show are the historic cable cars (which surely don’t qualify as rapid transit, anyway) and interstate Amtrak trains, preferring to focus on the Amtrak California Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin services.
Extra handy features include an indication of stations with timed transfers between services and an awesome little diagram of how BART services change quite radically depending on the day of the week.
Technically, the map is extremely well drawn - there’s a lovely clean minimalism to the linework and the colour palette is gorgeous, especially in the background areas.
My one minor complaint is that the colours used to denote Muni Metro and Caltrain are very similar to each other. While the relative thicknesses of their service lines help distinguish them from each other, the services do touch and overlap in a couple of places. This problem seems like it could have been easily solved with a little more thought, but still barely detracts from the sheer quality of this piece.
Our rating: One of my favourite unofficial maps. Four-and-a-half stars.
(Source: SF Cityscape - PDF)
Historical Map: Los Angeles Pacific Electric Network, 1925
A beautifully rendered (just look at those lovingly drawn mountain ranges!) old-school map of the famous “Red Car” network at its absolute zenith.
It was pretty much all downhill after this: real estate sales from land that had been opened up by the network (the real money that allowed the rail service to continue to run despite operating losses) began to decline and many rural services were converted to cheaper buses around this date.
In the 1930s, plans for an extensive “Motorway System” around Los Angeles were drawn up. Originally, rail tracks were planned for the median of these new freeways, but were quietly dropped without much protest. The convenient age of the automobile had arrived, and — despite a short renaissance during World War II — the Pacific Electric faded slowly away and ceased passenger operations in the early 1960s.
Compare to this awesome relief map of the same network from 1920 (October 2011, 4.5 stars).
Our rating: Lovely early 20th Century cartography. 4 stars.
A better Caltrain map: Caltrain’s current route map looks outdated and provides very minimal transfer information. I’ve created a refreshed map which provides more comprehensive transfer info (to other transit systems and airports) as well as a one-way fare chart. Stations served by Baby Bullet express trains are in bold. A current drawback: I left out all weekend-only and south-of-San-Jose stops. Future renditions could include those.
Transit Maps says: This is nice! Much, much better than the stale old official map.
The bold names for the adorably-named “Baby Bullet” service is simple but effective, and doesn’t clutter the map up with an extra route line for this express service.
Perhaps the BART services out of Millbrae station could point north rather than south to better reflect the direction trains actually travel in, but that’s a very minor quibble.*
Lovely colour palette, too. Four stars!
*An earlier version of this post erroneously misrepresented the location of Millbrae station and its relation to BART services toward SFO and OAK. It was a long day yesterday.