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”
Historical Poster: “Be Map Conscious”, London Transport, 1945
Here’s another beautiful old London Underground poster that features the Tube map, apparently produced to help servicemen unfamiliar with London get around. The poster, which basically acts as a Tube Map for Dummies guide, was placed next to the map in stations, with the abstract guard pointing towards it. The “tear-away” section at the bottom right shows a slightly modified version (angles aren’t at 45 degrees, the Aldwych spur is missing) of the central part of the map, which would have been this 1943 edition.
The artist was Polish-born Jan de Witt (1907-1991), signed as “Lewitt-Him” on the poster.
(Source: Creative Review)
Design for Shopping poster for London Transport, 1935
Design by O’Keeffe
via Mikey Ashworth
You just can’t beat 1930s London Underground posters - a superb mix of art, design and branding. This one’s a real beauty! Of interest is that it playfully echoes the look of Beck’s Tube Diagram, then only two years old.
Historical Map: Diagram of Tube Services, 7:00am, September 28, 1940
Here’s a fantastic historical document — a tube map used by engineers in London to mark out the status of services on the Underground during World War II. By the look of it, this map was updated at least daily, if not even more often, as this date falls squarely within the Blitz — a period where London was bombed for 57 consecutive nights by the Luftwaffe.
The map itself looks like a modified hand-drawn version of H.C. Beck’s 1936 Tube Diagram, with all stations shown as circles and some main line track added as well. The use of the map is simple: a red line along track shows that there is no service along that segment, while a blue circle (seen between Belsize Park and Chalk Farm, for example) indicates the location of an exploded bomb. It would also seem that the circle for a station is also coloured red if it is substantially damaged or destroyed. Most horrifying of all, a red cross marks the location of an unexploded bomb. Notes written in a beautiful, precise hand add detail to these symbols where necessary — “unsafe buildings”, “single tunnel only available for traffic: SB tunnel damaged by bomb”.
Our rating: An incredible historical document that vividly recalls the dangers and horrors faced by Londoners during the Blitz. 5 stars!
"Stitched Subways - London" by Susan Stockwell, 2007
One of the loveliest reinventions of the London Tube Map I’ve seen so far — simply red thread stitched onto rice paper. It’s bigger than it looks: 100cm wide by 30cm deep, so it would certainly look impressive on a wall!
(Source: Susan’s website)
Historical Map: 1896 German Map of the London Underground
This map of the nascent London Underground and “other railways” appears in the 14th edition of Brockhaus’ Konversations-Lexikon, a respected German encylopedia that is still in business today. Now known simply as the Brockhaus Enzyklopädie, the 21st edition was published in 2006 and runs to over 24,000 pages in 30 volumes.
The map itself is pretty simple and traditional, notable for being printed in three colours (black, red and a rather lovely teal blue). Production-wise, this means the map was almost certainly printed separately to the main body of the encyclopedia (which was printed with black ink only), and tipped-in by hand as the main volume was bound and assembled.
Also interesting is the map’s use of both German and English labels: while the Underground bears labels like “City u. Südlondonbahn” and the river proudly wears the name “Themse”, many of the main railway lines and localities are named in their native tongue. I’m not sure why this is: perhaps the map was altered or copied from an original English source?
Our rating: With an 1896 date, this is one of the earlier Underground maps I’ve seen, and is interesting just for that reason alone. It’s not the greatest cartography, but it’s not really meant for navigation of the system, but for giving a broad overview in the context of an encyclopedia. Three stars.
(Source: homingmissileglow Tumblr)
P.S. Google Books has a 1908 update of this map available as part of their digitized collection - click here to view it.
Unofficial Map: Three-Dimensional Real-Time Map of the London Underground
A stunning visualisation of the London Underground by visual developer Bruno Imbrizi. There’s certainly a lot of fun to be had zooming, rotating and panning the view around and turning each line on and off.
It’s another great example of what can be done with publicly-available data: in this case, train arrival times, the location of each station and its depth below the surface.
Historical Map: Bank-Monument Tube Stations Cutaway (1990s?)
Not a traditional transit map per se, but a stunningly beautiful technical illustration of the interlinking tubes and tunnels that form the connected Bank-Monument tube station complex in London. Built as separate stations, but linked by escalators in the 1930s (the depiction of which proved a permanent puzzle for H.C. Beck on his Tube Map), the complex is the ninth-busiest London Underground station,
What I love here is that we’re looking at over 100 years of infrastructure development: the original Monument station (first called “Eastcheap” and then “The Monument”) opened in 1884; the “City” end of the Waterloo and City Line in 1898; Bank station (named after the Bank of London) opened in 1900. Over 100 years after the first part of the complex was opened, the deep station for the DLR was completed in 1991.
Compare to a similar cutaway of the Hudson River Tubes from 1909.
(Source: Original source unknown, image from skyscrapercity.com forum post)
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).
File Under Awesome: London Tube Map Recreated With Lego Bricks
Sent my way by just about everyone this morning, this Lego map is one of five located at Tube stations across London as another part of the Tube’s 150th birthday celebrations. Each map shows the Tube at a different stage of development from the 1920s right through to the version shown here: a near-future map for 2020.
Painstakingly assembled from thousands of Lego bricks, the map looks great, although Neil Bennett from Digital Arts notes that its actual usefulness is pretty limited:
"… in the few moments we were there, tourists and travellers attempted to use the map to navigate their way across London and soon wandered off in search of a real map looking confused. Others were more impressed, and joined us in snapping photos of the map."
Seeing as the maps are more art than information design, I don’t really see this as a huge problem, myself. The maps will remain on display at King’s Cross (this map), South Kensington, Piccadilly Circus, Green Park, and Stratford stations over the summer, and then will be transferred to the London Transport Museum.