Photo: Tube Map Livery on GB Railfreight Engine 66721
A couple of great photos showing the unique Underground Map-themed livery on a GB Railfreight engine. The left side of the engine shows a portion of the original 1933 H.C. Beck design, while the right side shows the corresponding part of the 2013 Tube map. I believe that this engine is used to perform maintenance work on sections of the Underground, so the theme is certainly appropriate, as is the engine’s name plaque, seen in the lower image — “Harry Beck”
Charing Cross Road, London, 1995 - Happenstance
More than anything, it illustrates how people actually use maps in real life. Now that a destination has been reached via the Tube, a street map is required for the next stage of the journey. There’s some serious study of that map going on here!
Also, look at the Tube map on the wall behind our geographically-challenged subject. Charing Cross Road goes right past Leicester Square tube station, where I’m almost certain this photo was taken. You can see that countless fingers have instinctively pointed at that station on the map as people start to physically trace their route. As a result, Leicester Square has been completely worn away, leaving a big grey hole on the map at that location (right in the middle of the map if you’re not familiar with London).
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)
London Underground Abstract: Barbican
I’m totally loving this series of work by Nick Saltmarsh on Flickr. By zooming right in on details of the Tube Map, he makes us take another look at something that’s so familiar and ubiquitous.
Check out the full set here. Some are more successful than others, but all are interesting… and some make awesome abstract art pieces.
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)
Unofficial Map: Circular Tube Map by Maxwell Roberts
Apparently, circular Tube Maps are like London buses — none come forever, then two arrive at the same time.
This one is by Maxwell Roberts, an expert on the London Underground map if there ever was one. He’s personally redrawn multiple, multiple versions of the map in just about every possible configuration, just to see what works and what doesn’t. Many are featured in his excellent book, Underground Maps Unravelled, which I promise I’ll review properly one day.
Wisely, Roberts has confined his map to the traditional view of Greater London itself, with trains headed to distant places given an arrow pointer towards that destination.
Interestingly, most of his route lines radiate out from a central point, but some run parallel to other routes instead. This makes the design less rigid to a design ideal, but also upsets the visual flow of the diagram in a couple of places — I find the parallel Bakerloo and Metropolitan Lines in the northwest part of the map quite jarring.
Roberts’ interchange stations are much tighter than Fisher’s, looking far more like “traditional” Tube Map markers, but some are still very convoluted in making their connections between lines, such as at Farringdon/Barbican.
The London Underground logo "hidden" in the Circle Line is a bit of a gimmicky design affectation, although it actually works surprisingly well in the context of the diagram.
Overall, I think this version is more successful than Jonny Fisher’s, although I still don’t really see it as a viable alternative to the current official map. Neither does Mr. Roberts, who says, “Overall though, I don’t think I will be sending this one to TfL for comments. No great advances in usability here, but it was fun to make it.” Three-and-a-half stars.
(Source: Going Underground blog — click through for more detailed analysis from Maxwell Roberts himself)
Unofficial Map: “Orbital” London Underground Map by Jonny Fisher
Here’s an interesting new look at the London Underground from architect/designer/writer Jonny Fisher. It’s always fun when someone reinterprets something as well known as this: every designer approaches the same problem differently. For me, this map isn’t wholly successful, but it’s definitely thought-provoking.
Have we been there? Yes.
What we like: A bold attempt at a redesign of possibly the most well-known transit map of all. The “orbital” theme actually makes a lot of sense: London already has a Circle Line, and the Overground does form a looser larger circle around that. As a map designer myself, I can certainly appreciate the skill and effort that’s gone into making this look as coherent and attractive as it does.
What we don’t like: Station labels set in all lower case text… ugh!
Inclusion of far-distant Thameslink stations like Brighton, Peterborough and Kings Lynn (97 miles from London and — from my understanding — no certainty to be a part of the final Thameslink Programme) is faintly ridiculous and leads to some awful crowding of station names in the north eastern quadrant of the map. Inclusion of the Tramlink services in southern London may have been more warranted, and would have helped with the “orbital” theme of the map.
Lack of differentiation betwen the different types of service shown, even in the legend, which opts for a pretty “rainbow” of route lines instead. The colours may be in order, but the types of services are all mixed up. As the Underground operates at far greater frequencies that the mainline and rail services, this is an important distinction to make.
Some of the bigger interchange stations are now inordinately large: it looks as if you have to traverse across large parts of London to change from the Circle Line to the Victoria Line at Kings Cross/St. Pancras, for example.
I miss the Thames.
Our rating: Interesting new look at something familiar, if flawed. Two-and-a-half stars.
Google Doodle Celebrates the London Tube’s 150th Birthday!
The Metropolitan Line — first part of what was to become today’s London Underground — was opened on January 9, 1863 between Paddington and Farringdon Street via Kings Cross.
See my other posts about the London Underground here.
(Source: google.co.uk home page)
London’s iconic tube map is transformed into a pit-stop journey through classic styles of storytelling, with the individual tube lines turned into genres and sub genres of literature. The depths of the Northern Line are made over into the aptly named Horror Line. The Bakerloo Line coursing past Sherlock Holmes’s Baker Street becomes, of course, the Crime & Mystery Line. And the pink trajectory of the Hammersmith & City is converted to the Romance Line. Each Storyline features a range of illustrations bringing to life both classics and mavericks from that theme, with a genre-defining work lurking at each journey’s end. Stations falling on intersecting Storylines get a sub-genre cross over. Many many days and weeks were spent researching and crafting this piece.
Normally, I’m not a huge fan of the whole “let’s use a well known transit map and replace the station names with something else” thing, but I’m going to make an exception for this stunning poster by artist Anna Burles. This is beautifully done, and — for once — the interchanges between the genre/route lines have actually been thought about properly.