Unofficial Map: Istanbul Railway Network by Bertan Kılıçcıoglu
I’ve already featured an excellent unofficial map of Istanbul’s transit network by Kerim Bayer (June 2012, 4 stars), but here’s a new one that’s worthy of some attention.
First, let’s note that Istanbul’s transit network has expanded considerably in the last couple of years, and there’s now finally a rail connection across the Bosphorus, as well as a new Metro bridge over the Golden Horn (with a station in the middle of the span, no less!).
Although there’s a revised official map to go along with this expansion (see the second image above), it’s pretty poor. Weird non-standard angles are employed to shoehorn new routes into the existing framework of the map and the whole thing has a very tired, amateur feel about it.
Apparently, Bertan felt so strongly about this poor, sad map that he decided to rework it in his spare time. A man after my own heart!
What’s interesting about his map, though, is that it’s not really a new design at all. Bertan has taken all the elements of the old map — the same colours, route line thicknesses, symbols, icons, and legend information — and has simply used them in a far more attractive, considered way.
Route lines are strictly limited to 45 degrees, all labelling is horizontal (and he’s taken great care to stop labels from overlapping his route lines), interchanges are shown more cleanly… and more! It’s a great example of how a little bit of care and effort can transform an ordinary map into something much more cohesive and user-friendly.
For those who are interested, the (rather nice, if a little quirky) typeface used on Bertan’s map is the open-source Google font, Titillium Web.
Our rating: Using the same building blocks as the official map in an intelligent way, Bertan has transformed this map from dowdy to diva: four stars!
Source: Bertan’s portfolio website — click through to read more about his design process, as well as see some more comparison images.
Photo: Istanbul Metro Station Sign
Well, I guess that’s one place to put your map. It’s nice and visible from both platforms, at least!
Source: SpirosK photography/Flickr
Historical Map: Société des Tramways de Constantinople Tram Ticket, c. 1920s
A very interesting early topological transit diagram from Istanbul. It’s tricky to date precisely: the best I can do is the range 1923–1939, based on the lines shown and the fact that the STM was dissolved at the latter date when transit in Istanbul was nationalised.
It’s probably roughly contemporaneous with other early topological maps like George Dow’s work for the LNER in 1929, although I actually see this map being born out of necessity, rather than being any great pioneering design work. That’s because the map is printed on a small ticket, and was used by the ticket seller/conductor to mark the destination that the ticket is valid to. Note the blue marks on “Aller” and “Bechiktache” — this was sold as a one-way ticket to that destination. Obviously, a geographical map couldn’t fit into this tiny space, hence the necessity for this simplified topological representation.
The other interesting thing about this map is that Istanbul is flipped along the axis of the Golden Horn. Destinations that should be on the left of that waterway (looking at it on a standard map, with north to the top) are shown on the right and vice versa. The tram bridge across the Golden Horn is clearly shown on the map (as “Pont”, bridge in French). I know that Arabic reads from right to left: is this flipping of locations a concession to that?
Finally, I adore the little squiggly arrows that show how the lines connect between each stop.
Our rating: Amazing transit ephemera from the early 20th century. Five stars!
(Source: Ottoman History Podcast/Flickr)
All Aboard the Orient Express!
Here’s an absolutely charming little map found on the inside of a French model train set box lid. I don’t have a definitive date for this, but it does have a lovely retro feel to it.
The map itself isn’t much help, as it’s pretty much a work of fiction: a weird combination of different parts of the Orient Express’s historical routes (see this diagram on Wikipedia) and a branch to Warsaw via Prague that was never part of the train’s itinerary.
Maybe, as simple artwork intended for a children’s toy, the designers were simply thinking that no one would notice any inaccuracies. Looks great, though!
(Source: japanese forms/Flickr)
Unofficial Map: Istanbul Rapid Transit, by Kerim Bayer
One of the things I love about running this blog is when amateur map designers send me their work for review. The quality of these maps is often amazing, and this one of Istanbul’s rapid transit network by Istanbul native Kerim Bayer is a fantastic example.
Design- and quality-wise, it far surpasses the official map (shown in the images above for comparative purposes), which is a bit of a shambles: weird angles, muddy colours, poorly drawn and a bit old-fashioned. By contrast, Kerim’s map is bright, clear and modern.
Have we been there? No.
What we like: It’s obvious a lot of thought and attention to detail has gone into this map, including what parts of Istanbul’s transit system actually constitute “rapid transit”. As a result, dedicated BRT bus routes are shown, but the city’s two short gondola cable cars are not.
The general layout of the map is very pleasing, with nice even spacing between stations and well thought-out interchanges between lines. I especially like the addition of walking distances between platforms to give an idea of how long a transfer might take.
The colours used throughout the map are bright and modern - the substitution of light blue for water instead of a heavy grey makes a huge difference to the mood of the map.
What we don’t like: Despite looking fantastic, there is one huge drawback with Kerim’s map: everything is just too small in comparison to the finished size of the map. The PDF Kerim sent me is around 41 inches wide, or just over a metre. This seems to me to be a realistic final size for an in-car map, or a map you might find at a train station. However, his station labels at that final size are set at a mere 12 points - far too small to be read at any distance, or on a moving train.
Similarly, I feel that the route lines themselves are a little thin and spindly at the map’s final size - especially for the “under construction” routes, which have a white stroke down the middle of the line, making them very visually weak at any distance. I’d also like to see a little more differentiation between the different modes of transit shown on the map: at the moment it’s a little hard to tell which lines are BRT as opposed to tram or light rail, for example.
Finally, Kerim’s map sacrifices some information shown on the official map, such as the location of park-and-ride stations. While it helps his map look cleaner, this is important information for commuters and should be considered for inclusion.
Our rating: A beautiful-looking map that suffers slightly because of real-world considerations, but still an amazing piece of work that shows great potential. Four stars.
(Source: via email from Kerim)