Historical Map: Pacific Electric Strip Map
Submitted by Sam Huddy, who says:
This is a strip map of the Santa Monica Air Line that appears on several station platforms along the Expo Line in Los Angeles. As far as I know, this idea is original to the Metro era. As a work of art, the stops are unlabeled, and typical of the PE, it’s unclear what makes some stops “major” or “minor.”
Transit Maps says:
This is actually a lovely little homage from the LA Metro: acknowledging what came before them (the Expo Line utilises much of the Air Line’s original right of way) and giving it due credit. Love it!
Historical note: the Santa Monica Airline was a Pacific Electric streetcar service that ran from downtown LA to Santa Monica from 1909 to 1953.
(Source: Photographed by Sam)
Official Future Map: Los Angeles Metro Rail
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Agency released a “under construction” map yesterday, showing all the lines that are planned for the near future: Expo Line Phase 2, Gold Line Foothill Extension, the Crenshaw/LAX Line, Purple Line Extension and the ambitious downtown Regional Connector.
Overall, the map fits quite well into the existing LA Metro design aesthetic, although the crowded downtown area is now starting to make the station labelling look a little cramped and messy. It also presents a much larger problem — pointed out to me by Sam Huddy — in that its depiction of the Regional Connector is seriously flawed.
As seen in the second picture above, the Connector will cross the Red and Purple Lines after the 7th Street/Metro Center station and have a stop at 2nd Place/Hope — on the west side of the existing Red/Purple tracks. However, the new map chooses to place the 2nd Place/Hope station on the east side of those tracks, and has the entire Connector parallel to them, instead of showing the crossings.
A lot of this comes down to the limited space available in this part of the map, and the Silver Line is already taking up the available space on the west side of the Red/Purple Lines. However, while this is a diagrammatic map, it’s still hugely important that stations are placed in the correct positions relative to each other. Really, the central part of the map should have been completely redesigned to accommodate the Connector in its correct position, rather than simply tacking it on to the existing map.
Once the Connector is completed, it seems likely that service patterns on Metro rail will change, with the Gold, Blue and Expo lines drastically reconfigured — so there’s a chance this somewhat lazy error will get fixed then.
(Source: LA Metro website — “Under Construction Map” link)
Historical Map: The City of Los Angeles Showing Railway Systems, 1906
Another amazing old map from the awesome Big Map Blog, showing the already-booming rail transit network that was found in Los Angeles in the early days of the 20th Century. Electric trolleys first ran in LA in 1877, but the “Red Cars” of the Pacific Electric and the “Yellow Cars” of the narrow-gauge Los Angeles Railway had only appeared a mere five years before this map was produced. Their lines are represented on the map in appropriate colours, along with those of other, less-remembered, railway companies.
Technically, the map is beautifully drawn, although there’s some strange issues with route lines extending past the visible area of the map and spilling over the lists of street names, the map’s legend and even completely bleeding off the edge of the page (see the detail view of the legend above for an example). It could be intentionally done, but it certainly looks a little messy.
From a production viewpoint, it seems as though the map was printed with five different inks: black for the street name legend and Los Angeles Pacific RR routes, yellow for the Los Angeles RR, red for the Pacific Electric, green for the Los Angeles Inter-Urban RR, and a dark blue for the Los Angeles & Redondo RR and the underlying linework of the map itself. Understandably, given the fairly primitive printing technology of the day, the registration of these colours is a little bit off in places.
Our rating: A beautiful look at the early days of mass transit in LA. Four stars!
(Source: the Big Map Blog)
Submission — Unofficial Historical Map: Los Angeles Pacific Electric Railway Diagram, 1917
Drawn and submitted by Sam Huddy, who says:
Pacific Electric: Challenge Accepted!
When I read your disappointment on the uselessness of that beautiful map of the Pacific Electric at its peak in 1917 (not 1920), I wondered if it was possible to create a simplified London Underground-style map. With over a hundred routes it seemed impossible, but after several attempts, this was my end result. Any further information is on the map itself.
Transit Maps says:
Basically, this is incredible. An absolute model of simplicity and clarity of information, and it’s all drawn by hand onto some graph paper!
Breaking the multitude of routes up simply by their final downtown destination — either 6th and Main or 4th and Hill — works very well, and the “local services” insets are perfect for a map of this colossal scale: local route information can be easily found by those who need it, but those routes don’t clog the main map up with tiny detail, either. Perhaps the location of the inset boxes could be called out on the main map to aid those unfamiliar with the area, but that’s a very minor quibble.
As an added bonus, Sam has even dated the original map more precisely than any other source that I’ve seen. “Circa 1920” is now definitively dated to 1917, because his research found that some of the shuttle lines shown on this map and the original were abandoned after then.
Our rating: I feel like I could take this sketch and turn it into final computer-generated artwork in less than a day, it’s that good. Astounding work! Four-and-a-half stars!
(Source: Sam Huddy — Check the map out BIG on Flickr to see all the details!)
Los Angeles Rail Maps
Great photo showing how the LA Metro maps are part of a larger, unified, wayfinding system. Consistency of typography and brand are key — note how the titles of each map are in the same location and typeface every time, as is the Metro logo: colour is the main differentiator of information.
Historical Map: Los Angeles Pacific Electric Network, 1925
A beautifully rendered (just look at those lovingly drawn mountain ranges!) old-school map of the famous “Red Car” network at its absolute zenith.
It was pretty much all downhill after this: real estate sales from land that had been opened up by the network (the real money that allowed the rail service to continue to run despite operating losses) began to decline and many rural services were converted to cheaper buses around this date.
In the 1930s, plans for an extensive “Motorway System” around Los Angeles were drawn up. Originally, rail tracks were planned for the median of these new freeways, but were quietly dropped without much protest. The convenient age of the automobile had arrived, and — despite a short renaissance during World War II — the Pacific Electric faded slowly away and ceased passenger operations in the early 1960s.
Compare to this awesome relief map of the same network from 1920 (October 2011, 4.5 stars).
Our rating: Lovely early 20th Century cartography. 4 stars.
LA Metro Red and Purple Lines Strip Map
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again - the Los Angeles Metro system has one of the most coherent, unified transit agency corporate identities out there. It’s used intelligently and consistently across the entire system - from maps, station signage and onto their website and collateral. Distinctive without being extrovert, it displays information simply and effectively, and looks good while doing it.
Sneak Peek: Los Angeles
This project has been ruminating in my head for a while, but I’ve finally got going. Very early days, but the look is starting to come together. How is this project different to my previous Interstate and U.S Highway paps? You’ll see… think bigger.
Viewing the Every 15 Minutes (or Less) Map
(Source Oran Viriyincy/Flickr)
Metro Goes to Culver!
Phase 1 of the Expo Line is open.
(Source: Non Paratus/Flickr)