1914 Hoch und Untergrundbahn Map, Sophie-Charlotte-Platz, Berlin

One of 26 panels on the walls of the platforms of this U-Bahn station that show the history of the subway before the First World War.

Source: bentchristensen14/Flickr

Submission – Official Map: In-Car Map of Rome Tram Lines

Submission and photo by Chris Bastian.

Does a decent job of showing a large and disjointed network in a limited space, although it’s not exactly stylish. Notable for its interesting “circle” and “half-circle” terminus stations, as well as its use of double-headed arrow station markers to show that trams stop in both directions there.

As the tram network basically circumnavigates the historical centre of Rome, that part is basically compressed so much that it’s barely even present anymore – a factor of the limited space, more than anything else.

The map also cheats a bit, as the “3B” between Stazione Trastevere and Piramide is actually a bus line, not a tram, despite being represented identically on the map.

Our rating: Not bad for an above-the-door map that has to show the whole network, but not really memorable either. Two-and-a-half stars.

2.5 Stars

  1. Camera: Panasonic DMC-FZ70
  2. Aperture: f/2.8
  3. Exposure: 1/200th
  4. Focal Length: 3mm
Submission – Official Map: Bus Network of Nuuk, Greenland
Submitted by sperwing, who says:
Legends are pretty important parts of maps. Especially if you do things differently than other maps. It is certainly a unique decision that every bus stop is only for one direction. Defining that direction only by the side of the label however is just poor design. (no arrows!)
——
Transit Maps says:
This is definitely one of the most unique transit maps I’ve seen, in that it requires you to use both the timetable for a given line and the map to work out where the bus actually goes.
Every bus stop on the map has a number assigned to it, and the timetable then lists those numbers in the order that each route stops at them. In the example shown above, Route 1 starts at stop number 26, then calls at 23, 24, 18, 1, 47, etc. In effect, it’s like a giant game of connect the dots, except the dots aren’t even always in sequential order. Following the route described in the timetable on the map can be a bit confusing, because you’ll often have to skip over a number of stops before the next listed number. The ones you skipped are either used by the bus on its return journey, or aren’t actually served by that line at all.
It seems as though some routes go clockwise, while others go anti-clockwise, so I can see why the designers haven’t used arrows to indicate directions… unless the arrows were properly integrated into each and every station to indicate which direction they served, things could get very messy indeed. 
As it is, the system is small enough – Nuuk only has 15,000 inhabitants, and the bus company only employs 24 people – that the unusual methods employed by this map are tolerable enough. It’s a little annoying that you’d have to flip from page to page (the map is on one side of the sheet, the timetables on the other) in actual use, but I feel you’d get the hang of things fairly quickly.
The map itself looks pretty nifty – a nicely stylised diagrammatic map – although I’m not entirely sure of the meaning of the circles at certain points along the way. They don’t always seem to line up with the bus stops, but instead seem to just indicate intersections where bus routes diverge. Some of the labelling is a bit strange, and the spacing between some of the route lines is a bit variable, but overall I quite like the way it looks.
Our rating: A nice looking map, but with an incredibly esoteric and quirky route finding system that simply wouldn’t work with a more complex network. Interesting to see something so removed from the normal way of doing things (having just said that arrows are the only way to indicate route directionality). Two-and-a-half stars.

Source: Nuup Bussii website Submission – Official Map: Bus Network of Nuuk, Greenland
Submitted by sperwing, who says:
Legends are pretty important parts of maps. Especially if you do things differently than other maps. It is certainly a unique decision that every bus stop is only for one direction. Defining that direction only by the side of the label however is just poor design. (no arrows!)
——
Transit Maps says:
This is definitely one of the most unique transit maps I’ve seen, in that it requires you to use both the timetable for a given line and the map to work out where the bus actually goes.
Every bus stop on the map has a number assigned to it, and the timetable then lists those numbers in the order that each route stops at them. In the example shown above, Route 1 starts at stop number 26, then calls at 23, 24, 18, 1, 47, etc. In effect, it’s like a giant game of connect the dots, except the dots aren’t even always in sequential order. Following the route described in the timetable on the map can be a bit confusing, because you’ll often have to skip over a number of stops before the next listed number. The ones you skipped are either used by the bus on its return journey, or aren’t actually served by that line at all.
It seems as though some routes go clockwise, while others go anti-clockwise, so I can see why the designers haven’t used arrows to indicate directions… unless the arrows were properly integrated into each and every station to indicate which direction they served, things could get very messy indeed. 
As it is, the system is small enough – Nuuk only has 15,000 inhabitants, and the bus company only employs 24 people – that the unusual methods employed by this map are tolerable enough. It’s a little annoying that you’d have to flip from page to page (the map is on one side of the sheet, the timetables on the other) in actual use, but I feel you’d get the hang of things fairly quickly.
The map itself looks pretty nifty – a nicely stylised diagrammatic map – although I’m not entirely sure of the meaning of the circles at certain points along the way. They don’t always seem to line up with the bus stops, but instead seem to just indicate intersections where bus routes diverge. Some of the labelling is a bit strange, and the spacing between some of the route lines is a bit variable, but overall I quite like the way it looks.
Our rating: A nice looking map, but with an incredibly esoteric and quirky route finding system that simply wouldn’t work with a more complex network. Interesting to see something so removed from the normal way of doing things (having just said that arrows are the only way to indicate route directionality). Two-and-a-half stars.

Source: Nuup Bussii website

Submission – Official Map: Bus Network of Nuuk, Greenland

Submitted by sperwing, who says:

Legends are pretty important parts of maps. Especially if you do things differently than other maps. It is certainly a unique decision that every bus stop is only for one direction. Defining that direction only by the side of the label however is just poor design. (no arrows!)

——

Transit Maps says:

This is definitely one of the most unique transit maps I’ve seen, in that it requires you to use both the timetable for a given line and the map to work out where the bus actually goes.

Every bus stop on the map has a number assigned to it, and the timetable then lists those numbers in the order that each route stops at them. In the example shown above, Route 1 starts at stop number 26, then calls at 23, 24, 18, 1, 47, etc. In effect, it’s like a giant game of connect the dots, except the dots aren’t even always in sequential order. Following the route described in the timetable on the map can be a bit confusing, because you’ll often have to skip over a number of stops before the next listed number. The ones you skipped are either used by the bus on its return journey, or aren’t actually served by that line at all.

It seems as though some routes go clockwise, while others go anti-clockwise, so I can see why the designers haven’t used arrows to indicate directions… unless the arrows were properly integrated into each and every station to indicate which direction they served, things could get very messy indeed. 

As it is, the system is small enough – Nuuk only has 15,000 inhabitants, and the bus company only employs 24 people – that the unusual methods employed by this map are tolerable enough. It’s a little annoying that you’d have to flip from page to page (the map is on one side of the sheet, the timetables on the other) in actual use, but I feel you’d get the hang of things fairly quickly.

The map itself looks pretty nifty – a nicely stylised diagrammatic map – although I’m not entirely sure of the meaning of the circles at certain points along the way. They don’t always seem to line up with the bus stops, but instead seem to just indicate intersections where bus routes diverge. Some of the labelling is a bit strange, and the spacing between some of the route lines is a bit variable, but overall I quite like the way it looks.

Our rating: A nice looking map, but with an incredibly esoteric and quirky route finding system that simply wouldn’t work with a more complex network. Interesting to see something so removed from the normal way of doing things (having just said that arrows are the only way to indicate route directionality). Two-and-a-half stars.

2.5 Stars

Source: Nuup Bussii website

Infographic: Crocheting in the Subways of Hamburg by Lana Bragina

Now this I love!

Every time that Lana travelled on Hamburg’s S-Bahn or U-Bahn, she would pass the time by crocheting this neat little bangle. The fun part is that she would only use thread that was the colour of the line that she was riding on at the time: green thread for the S1, yellow for U3, etc.

The really extra fun part is that she also made this super nifty infographic that explains the whole thing in a very visual way: the dates that each trip was made on, which stations she rode between and how long (in minutes) that trip took, even little “work in progress” photos of the bracelet after each trip. And then the whole thing is tied into a simple little diagramof “Lana’s Subway” as well. That the whole infographic looks like thick skeins of thread draped across the page is just the icing on the cake. Perfect and wonderful.

Source: ulaniulani/Flickr

Submission - Historical Map: Bus and Trolley-bus Routes in Vilnius, Lithuania, 1968

Submitted by creatures-alive.

A striking transit network map from Soviet Vilnius in the late 1960s. The stark, angular route lines are softened a bit by the wide lazy curves of the city’s rivers, but this is still pretty severe, minimalist, almost abstract design. Also of note is the map’s title and legend, set in five different languages — Lithuanian, Russian, Polish, German and English.

Source: Vilniaus Katalogas website

Submission – Unofficial Map: “Hyper Japan” Directory London Underground Map

Submitted by chiguire, who says:

Found this London Tube map in the Hyper Japan directory magazine. Hyper Japan is some sort of convention about the country [of Japan, held in London – Cam], but I couldn’t stop staring at this map. It’s like a car wreck, it’s horrible but you just can’t stop looking :-P

——

Transit Maps says:

A great example how you can use all the elements of a successful transit map and still end up with a complete mess. Obviously, the organisers of Hyper Japan didn’t want to pay a licensing fee to TfL for the actual Tube map, so they either made one of their own or paid someone substantially less than the licensing fee to make one for them.

The central part of the map actually looks eerily similar in shape to the real deal, with the (in)famous “thermos flask” shape described by the Circle Line remaining almost intact. However, things go rapidly downhill after that, and much of the system south of the Thames just looks horrible: the DLR and Overground suffering the worst. I’m also pretty certain that the southern part of the Northern Line is at a non-standard angle just so the legend can be squeezed in underneath it.

The square interchange symbols aren’t a patch on the superb interconnected circles of the actual Tube map, and the typography is lacklustre at best. If you need connecting lines between labels and the station they name, then you’re doing it wrong.

Our rating: A poor imitation that really makes you realise how balanced and aesthetically pleasing the Tube map is by comparison, and how difficult it is to make a truly excellent transit map. One-and-a-half stars.

1.5 Stars

Historical Map: Pocket Diary with London Tube Map, 1948

A lovely little black and white version of the Tube map at the front of a 1948 year diary. Drawn by H.C. Beck (see his name at the bottom left), it shows the central area of London only and is based off the 1946 version of the full map. By 1949, interchanges were being drawn with a white connector line between adjacent circles, rather than the separate circles seen here.

Source: hollandfamilyarchives/Flickr

Historical Map: Unpublished Proof of H.C. Beck’s London Underground Diagram, 1932

A printer’s proof of the first card folder (pocket) edition of Beck’s famous diagram, with edits and corrections marked in his own hand.

Of note is the use of quite ugly and overpowering “blobs” instead of the now-ubiquitous “ticks” for station markers, and the fact that the map has been entirely hand-lettered by Beck, using what he called “Johnston-style” characters. He’s cheated quite a bit with his letterforms and spacing on some of the longer station names.

The Piccadilly line is also shown in what seems to us a very odd light blue, although Beck was simply following established colour conventions from earlier geographical maps. The now-familiar dark blue was in place by the time the diagram was officially released in January of 1933.

Source: Scanned from my personal copy of “Mr. Beck’s Underground Map" by Ken Garland

  1. Camera: CanoScan LiDE 600F

Submission - Official Map: Copenhagen S-Tog Network, 2014

Submitted by 1993matias, who says:

Hi there!

I am a big admirer of your reckless slaughter of bad maps - and the praise of the good ones. But, the map you got for the Copenhagen S-train network (reviewed way back in November 2011, 3 stars) is not the best you could have gotten. This one above is the official one at all stations in the area.

It has that sleek feel as the other map, but the local trains in the north take much of the focus with their dark colour. The metro has some very neutral colours, contrary to the red and green they really have. And the black and white dots make no sense to me, why not use ticks as the rest of the map? There are no transfer station, as the ticket system is “open” - barrier free. That makes every station a transfer station. 

The design has been thought through, I can’t see any glaring design mistake - maybe apart from the “merging” routes just after the central station on the big bend (purple and grey).

I wonder what they will do when the new metro circle line opens - there’s no room left in central Copenhagen…

——

Transit Maps says:

To be fair, I did review the previous map back in 2011, so I’m not really surprised that it’s changed since then (I do note that my source link on the previous post no longer leads to any maps).

That said, this version of the map addresses almost all of the issues I had with the older one – lack of geographical context, no indication of connecting services, no indication of the importance of Copenhagen Central station – so it’s definitely a huge improvement in my opinion.

I would agree that the dark purple colour used for the connecting “Lokalbaner” trains is far too visually strong, but I don’t really mind the light grey used for the Metro lines: it’s secondary, connecting information and shouldn’t be shown with the same importance as the main focus of the map, the S-Tog system. I’m also at a a loss to understand why the stations are white on the M1 line, but black on the M2: it really doesn’t seem necessary to me. 

And yes, it looks like a rethink will be needed once the Metro circle line opens… the centre of the city is going to need a lot more room. However, there’s a lot of empty space (Sweden) to the right of the map, so it looks like the same square format could still be used.

Our rating: A big improvement over the previous iteration. Four stars.

4 Stars!

Source: DSB website (PDF download) 

Historical Map: Frankfurt S- and U-Bahn Map, 1982

Here’s a great map that shows the rapid transit of Frankfurt am Main in Germany at an interesting point in its development.

The Citytunnel that carried lines S1 through S6 under the central part of the city had opened just four years prior to this, and the bridge over the Main that carried the new S14 and S15 lines was constructed in 1980. The year after this map was produced, the Citytunnel was extended from Hauptwache to Konstablerwache, transforming it from a small station that only served the U4 and U5 lines to the second-busiest station in the network.

Also of interest is the strong divide visible in the network north and south of the Main river. Only one coloured S-Bahn route (the S15) makes it south of the river, and then only just. The rest of the routes that service the south are all shown in black, and all depart from the mainline platforms at the Hauptbahnhof. In effect, they’re really regional trains, despite their “S” numbering, and actually appear to be indicated as such in modern maps of the network.

The map itself is a great example of nice, clean, 1980s German transit map design, apart from the oddly large and out-of-place asterisk used to mark short-turn stations.

Our rating: Good-looking map of a system that was expanding rapidly at the time. Three-and-a-half stars!

3.5 Stars

Source: Dennis Brumm/Flickr