Historical Map: Circular London Underground Map Sketch, Harry Beck, c. 1964
For those who thought that the two circular London Underground diagrams I featured earlier this year — by Jonny Fisher and Maxwell Roberts — were a completely modern twist on an old classic, here’s a reminder of just how forward-thinking Harry Beck really was.
This is a sketch, dated to 1964 at the earliest (due to his adoption of Paul Garbutt’s dot-in-a-circle device for main line interchange stations), that presents the Circle Line as a perfect ellipse. Quite a stunning contrast to his usual rigidly rectilinear diagrams, if perhaps ultimately not a huge improvement — much as the two modern maps are exercises in design, rather than a replacement for the original. Note also that this beautiful sketch is entirely hand-drawn: not a computer to be seen in it’s creation.
(Source: Scanned from my personal copy of Mr. Beck’s Diagram by Ken Garland, Capital Transport Publishing, 1994)
Video: Making of a London Underground String Map
Feeling creative? Why not make a string art replica of your favourite subway system as shown in this awesome video? The pro tip is definitely the taping down of the actual map before putting in the nails for guaranteed fidelity to the real thing.
(Source: fsm vpggru/Vimeo)
Historical Map: Diagram Showing London’s Underground Railways, Power Stations, Substations, 1933
Here’s a fascinating reworking of Harry Beck’s original 1933 Tube map that I haven’t seen before. Apparently it’s from an article in a journal from November 1933 that details the work required to upgrade the electrical services on the Underground.
Apart from the stark black and white treatment and addition of the power stations and substations, what’s really interesting about this map are the little tweaks and changes that have already occurred since the first edition of the map, produced just months beforehand. The Northern end of the Piccadilly Line has now reached Cockfosters, whereas the original map shows it as under construction. The District Line also no longer reaches Uxbridge, being replaced by Piccadilly Line service. The eastern end of the District Line on the original map just bled off the edge of the page; now it has a (slightly cramped) arrow head indicating that the line continues.
In fact, apart from the use of diamonds for interchange stations instead of circles, this map actually has far more in common with the 1936 edition of the London Underground Map than the 1933… which just goes to show how Beck - ever the perfectionist - was always tinkering with and perfecting his design.