Submission: Cross-Stitched New York Subway Map
Submitted by Sabina Wolfson, who says:
The cross-stitched “T” map you mentioned reminded me that I have been meaning to submit this for awhile. Cross-sittched NYC subway map from 2010. I took a map and made it into an x-stitch pattern and then my Aunt stitched it for me.
Transit Maps says:
Wow! The 45-degree angularity of most transit maps means that they work well with this type of “pixel-based” art, but Sabina must have been thrilled with the finished result. Mostly based off the Vignelli “Weekender” map, by the look of things.
If you can get past the ridiculously incorrect statement in the second paragraph that the current New York subway map is “loosely based on a famous 1972 design by Massimo Vignelli”, then this is a fun overview of maps from 1924 to the current day. It’s nothing you can’t already find at the NYCSubway.org website with a little digging, but it’s nice to see them all on one page.
Future Map: FutureNYCSubway by vanshnookenraggen
An updated look at my futureNYCSubway proposal using an expanded Vignelli map.
More excellent work from Andrew Lynch (aka vanshnookenraggen) — this time, an astoundingly well-considered analysis of future plans for the New York Subway. The resultant map is quite beautiful as well, based as it is off Massimo Vignelli’s 2008/Weekender revision of his classic 1970s map.
I strongly encourage you to click through to Andrew’s website and read the full rationale behind this map: this isn’t just “fantasy”, it’s a well-balanced view of the potential future of the subway in New York. You can also download a PDF of the map for personal use (sweet!).
Submission - Aerial Photo of New York City with Rail Lines Superimposed
Fantastic work from Transit Maps reader Arnorian showing the New York Subway, PATH and NJ Transit Lines on top of an aerial photograph of central New York City. When you view a transit system like New York’s through the limitations of a small printed or on-line map (be it the official map, the Vignelli diagram or even the hybrid Kick Map), it’s easy to forget just how big and complex it is. A representation like this shows that complexity and scale to full effect, and also looks quite breathtakingly gorgeous.
Bigger image in this Skyscrapercity forum thread.
Update: I’ve replaced the image with a newer version that has been amended to take into account some comments that readers have made. I’d also like to properly attribute the photographer who took the photo that the map is overlaid on: Dennis Dimick — go and check out his Flickr stream!
Historical Map: New York Metropolitan Transit Authority 1968 Plan for Rail Improvement and Transit Expansion
Courtesy of the new and already indispensable hyperrealcartography Tumblr, here’s a simply stunning set of New York transit planning maps from the late 60s.
In this modern age of computer-aided map design, a lot of time can be spent trying to digitally replicate this watercolour look, but it’s hard to beat the real thing (although Stamen’s lovely map tiles do a pretty good job!).
The north pointer — successfully and cleverly integrating the then-brand-new MTA logo — is also worthy of note.
Historical Map: New York City Transit System Morning Peak Flow, 1954
A beautiful old map showing scheduled morning peak service (both actual service and absolute maximum capacity) into Manhattan below 60th Street. The thicker the lines, the greater the service — much like modern service frequency maps! Being 1954, the subway is still divided into its three separately run divisions: BMT (Yellow), IRT (Blue) and IND (Red).
(Source: Ward Maps’ Facebook Page — lots of amazing old maps here!)
Here’s how it works: Each turn, you build some track and add a new station. And so do your opponents. Because you’re not the only line in town, you have competition. Your goal is to serve as many desirable blocks as possible, while keeping your opponents at bay. How? Well, every piece of track you lay down cannot be crossed. So every turn, you are building walls. The only way through is via stations.
Over time a subway system will develop, its layout determined by how you and your opponents have chosen to play the game.
I would buy this game in a heartbeat.
Book Review: “Vignelli Transit Maps”, Peter B. Lloyd with Mark Ovenden
As a graphic designer with a keen interest in transit maps and a fairly thorough knowledge of their history and usage, I thought I had a decent understanding of Massimo Vignelli’s diagrammatic version of the New York Subway map, which was used from 1972 to 1979.
This outstanding book has proved me almost completely and utterly wrong.
So much of what we think we know about the Vignelli map is simply hearsay and legend, repeated Chinese whisper-style across the internet, until we’re left with something that almost, but not quite, resembles the truth. Fueled by excellent research and interviews, and presented with beautiful (if occasionally a little small) maps, photos and illustrations, this book is essential for any lover of transit maps and good graphic design.
More than anything else I’ve read, this book places the Vignelli map in a proper historical context — what preceded it and why that left the door open for a modernist design firm (rather than cartographers) to produce something new, but also what led to its abrupt and premature death in 1979. There’s definitely more to the story than the usual “New Yorkers didn’t like a diagram/square Central Park/beige water” reasons that you often hear.
As well as a thorough analysis of the map itself — reproductions and accompanying text are presented for every version of the map — the book also delves deeply into the labour-intensive and time-consuming production methods required to create a map as complex as this in the days before computer-aided design. Asked to come up with an initial conceptual “trial map” in 1970, junior designer Joan Charysyn (who also independently created this New York Commuter Rail diagram in 1974) had to hand-cut pieces of PANTONE colour film into 1/8” strips and then assemble the route lines onto a one-foot-square board, adding station label type as well. Of the work, Charysyn simply states, “the execution of the comp was tedious and done in as few pieces as possible.”
The book also deals with Vignelli’s work for the Washington, DC Metro: he designed the wayfinding and station signage that is still largely in use today, but the contract for the system map was given separately to Lance Wyman. The book shows some of Vignelli’s very early (and very minimalist!) conceptual sketches for the map, and explains exactly why Lance Wyman’s proposed station icons (similar to the ones he had designed for Mexico City’s Metro) never got off the ground.
The book also discusses the reintroduction of the Vignelli map in 2008, comparing and contrasting it against the other modern player in the New York Subway map market — Eddie Jabbour’s Kick Map (Jabbour writes a preface for the book, and his admiration for Vignelli’s design philosophy and body of work is obvious).
This book is absolutely essential for any lover or student of transit maps or graphic design. It’s well written, thoroughly researched and beautiful to look at: what more do you need? Five stars!
Published by RIT Press, December 2012. 128pp.
Order page is here — Book is $US34.99 plus shipping.
(Note: Transit Maps purchased their own copy of this book, and did not receive any compensation for this review, financial or otherwise)
NY Subway Map and Tokens, 1990
Great little slice of history here. The photographer on Flickr seems to recall the cost of a token as being 60 cents at the time; Wikipedia prices it at $1.15.
As a graphic designer, all I can see is the terrible registration in the (cheap) printing — look at the huge yellow halo bleeding out to the right of the green and red printed areas. (In four-colour printing, green is made from combining cyan and yellow inks, red is made from magenta and yellow. When the plates are poorly aligned with each other, the presses run too fast, or cheap paper stretches or moves during the printing process, you get misalignment of the inks, leading to poor registration like this.)
EDIT: As has been pointed out to me, the tokens and the map shown in the photo aren’t contemporaneous. The “solid brass” token shown here was used from 1980 to 1985; during that time, the cost of a subway ride rose from 60 cents to 90 cents. (Source: nycsubway.org’s comprehensive page on subway tokens)