High-Resolution Scan of 1988 Amsterdam Transit Map!

Have I ever mentioned how much I love my readers?

I posted about this map last Monday, praising its visual clarity, but also lamenting the fact that I didn’t have a higher resolution version of it to really savour the details.

Almost immediately, I got a submission from Alain Lemaire, who generously sent me full high-resolution scans of the whole map from his personal collection. He provided me with four separate scans, one for each quadrant of the map (which is obviously too big to scan in one piece), which I have simply combined them into one big file (4325 × 4653px, 6MB) in Photoshop.

Tumblr’s maximum image size is way too small for a detailed map like this, so I’m hosting it over on my personal website. Click the image above or here to go and view/download it.

Alain has this to say about the map:

In my opinion, this map is a diagrammatic beauty, but pretty much rendered useless outside the city center because of the lack of bus stop labels and a geographic backdrop. Might have been the reason why GVB decided to drop this beauty and put the current – rather bland but more practical – design in place which does not feature any stop labels at all but does have a clear geographic backdrop. That way at least you do have a reference point for using the map. Maybe Hans van der Kooi could tell you more about the history and eventual decommissioning of this map.

As far as the colour coding goes, Van der Kooi used colour and line width to show which lines go where: thick red for all tram and thin red for all bus lines to the central station and main transit hub in Amsterdam, thick green for trams on the inner ring route along the city center, thick yellow for ‘other’ tram routes and thin yellow, green, blue and purple for all other bus routes. It seems to me he used yellow for most lines terminating at Sloterdijk station, which served as a second transit hub in the late 1980s. All regional bus lines are shown in black and white. For comparison: the current official map uses colour only to distinguish between tram, bus, peak bus and regional bus. Not of much use if you want to easily determine where your line is heading.

(Source: Alain Lemaire via email)

Submission - Historical Map: Public Transit in Amsterdam, 1988 by Hans van der Kooi

Submitted by the designer of the map, Hans van der Kooi, who says:

As a result of the popularity of the hand-out map for trams (June 2013, 4.5 stars) in Amsterdam, we designed a larger scale map, used on the tram and bus stops in Amsterdam, including the line of the buses as well. Designed and used in 1988.


Transit Maps says:

An absolute pleasure to have this map submitted by the original designer! While the image size is a little small to make out the fine detail, it’s obvious that this map builds on and continues the good work of the tram network map that I’ve featured previously. Again, the dodecalinear layout suits Amsterdam’s underlying structure almost perfectly, and the way that the thickness of the tram route lines instantly denotes service frequency is quite superb.

Buses are shown with thinner lines and (what looks like) lighter colours. Enough geographical information – parks, bodies of water, major roads, etc. – is included to orient users and make the bus routes useful to use.

The Metro is shown with a dashed blue line: again, the route line doubles in thickness when the two separate lines from Gaasperpas and Gein merge together in the south-eastern corner of the map. National rail services are shown as a dashed black and white line, the way they often are on Dutch transit maps. Note that even in this small image, it’s still very easy to distinguish between the different modes of transit shown – definitely something to aspire to!

Our rating: The image is a little too small to give this a proper rating, but even at a distance, the clarity of the informational design is something to behold.

(Source: 8-13 website via Hans van der Kooi)

Submission - Historical Map: Amsterdam GVB Map by Hans van der Kooi, 1980s

Submitted by Alain Lemaire, who says:

this map might interest you - in response to your blog post of Joan Zalacain’s Amsterdam tram map.

It seems the 30/60 degree paradigm is indeed well suited to Amsterdam’s topological layout. Too bad this once official map is no longer in use today.


Transit Maps says:

Thanks to Alain for sending this beauty in! Simply put, this is lovely work. What I really like about this map is the way it combines multiple tram routes into just four colours, each representing a different service pattern:

  • Red for trams from Amsterdam Centraal station to points west.
  • Blue for Amsterdam Centraal to points east
  • Green for east-west “inner ring” cross-town services
  • Yellow for east west “outer ring” cross-town services

This approach also has the benefit of implying service frequency: the thicker the line, the more often a tram comes along. Other services — the Metro and NS trains are incorporated with a minimum of fuss, and there’s clear information about connecting services where appropriate. Large bodies of water (but only the Amstel, not the city’s famous canals) give some geographical scope to the map. If I have one complaint, it’s that I’m never really a fan of keylining a yellow route line with black: it always looks a little overpowering to my eyes.

Our rating: Fantastic, restrained, useful European 1980s design. Four-and-a-half-stars.

4.5 Stars!

Unofficial Map: Rail Transport of the Randstad, the Netherlands

Here’s a submission via the Transit Maps Facebook Page from reader Dave Kramer. This is a beautiful map of NS rail service within the Netherland’s Randstad region: an informal name for the conurbation of the four largest Dutch cities - Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht - and the surrounding areas.With a combined population of 7.1 million, it’s one of the largest conurbations in Europe and is serviced by a comprehensive rail system.

Dave points out that the map  was created in 2009, so the routes may or may not be totally accurate now (I seem to recall a Sprinter train that ran through Schiphol to Amsterdam when I was there in late 2010, but I may be wrong).

Have we been there? My sole experience with NS trains has been from Schiphol to Amsterdam Centraal and back again.

What we like: Looks fantastic. A very clean, stylish and oh-so-European diagram. The typography is particularly nice (I can even forgive the 90-degree angled type because it’s handled so deftly). Different levels of service are denoted through use of colour alone - a dangerous approach when considering color-blind users - but there’s enough contrast between those colours for it to work relatively well (I ran the map through a colour-blindness simulator to check this).

What we don’t like: Major hub stations where every train stops could benefit from an “interchange station” style marker, rather than individual dots on each line. This is especially true for all the “Centraal” stations. The final destinations of routes that leave the Randstad are labelled within the route lines themselves, which makes them a little small and hard to read.

Our rating: Excellent. 4 stars!

4 Stars!

(Source: Dave Kramer)

Official Map: Rotterdam Metro, The Netherlands

The very best transit diagrams have every element working in harmony to present a cohesive visual message. When even one element is out of place, a map can suffer. When that element is as important as the depiction of the region’s geography, the results can be disastrous, as shown by this map of Rotterdam’s Metro.

Have we been there? No.

What we like: The routes themselves are shown very clearly, with interchange stations and the National Rail system given the right importance. In fact, this would be a quite excellent example of European transit map design if it wasn’t for one thing…

What we don’t like: …the hideous blurry background. Quite possibly the worst attempt at rendering geography on a transit map I’ve seen yet. It’s not realistic, it’s not diagrammatic, it’s just… fuzzy. I can only guess that the reasoning behind this was to make it clear that this is not an accurate to-scale rendering of the landscape, but it just ends up looking indistinct, out of focus, poorly executed and a jarring visual contrast to the clean diagram placed on top of it.

Our rating: A quality diagram poorly let down by a terrible background. Two-and-a-half stars.

2.5 Stars

(Source: Official RET website)

Unofficial Map: Amsterdam Metro and Railway Connections by Eric Hammink

The simplified rectilinear grid is such a familiar form for transit maps that when we see something that breaks that mould, the results can be visually stunning. That’s certainly the case with this beautiful map from designer Erik Hammink, who uses the natural circular shape of Amsterdam’s canals to great effect.

Have we been there? Yes, although I’ve only used the tram network rather than the Metro service.

What we like: Lovely, minimalist European design, with echoes of 1930s Art Deco transit posters in its stylised, circular rendering of the IJ and the Amsterdam Metro type to the top right of the map. Beautifully clear and easy to read. I especially like the rendering of Amsterdam’s ring of canals, which orients the user perfectly.

What we don’t like: The need to adhere to the radial spoke design form means that some of the curves where routes change direction look a little uneven. The icon for Schiphol airport looks very large and out of character compared to the smaller, more elegant icons for the Metro and rail termini stations. The gradients behind the legends at the top of the map look a little modern and iOS-like compared to the beautiful retro feel the rest of the map has.

Our rating: Stunning work, especially when you also know that Eric has also produced a map of Amsterdam’s dense tram network that appears to fit onto the same radial grid. A true labour of love, and it shows. Four stars.

4 Stars!

(Source: Hammink Design website - free download for personal use)