Historical Map: Southern Pacific “Red Electric” Tracks in Downtown Portland, c. 1920
Scanned from the book “The Red Electrics: Southern Pacific’s Oregon Interurbans" by Tom Dill and Walter Grande.
This handsome map shows the routing of the Southern Pacific’s electric interurban trains through downtown Portland from their northern terminus at Union Station. These trains, popularly known as the “Red Electrics” after their distinctive carriages, ran from Portland all the way down the Willamette Valley as far as Corvallis, 85 miles distant. Service started in 1914, extended to Corvallis in 1917 and ceased in 1929; just 15 years later.
These big, heavy trains ran right down the middle of Fourth Avenue from Union Station with an intermediate stop at Stark and Fourth. At Fourth and Jefferson, the lines split into two services: the “Westside” route served Beaverton, Hillsboro, Forest Grove and Carlton, while the “Eastside” line served Oswego, Sherwood, Newberg and Lafayette. The two routes connected in Saint Joseph, just north of McMinnville, and then continued to Corvallis.
Of further interest, the map also shows the route of the competing Oregon Electric company, running down 10th Avenue and Salmon Street. Their terminus station was at 10th and Hoyt (the train barns still exist, repurposed as fancy loft apartments on either side of 10th Avenue), with stations at 10th and Stark, 10th and Alder, Salmon and 5th/6th, and Jefferson and Front (modern-day Naito). Also seen is the incredible network of streetcar lines at the time, visible on almost every downtown street!
Historical Map: TriMet Bus System Map, Portland, Oregon, 1978
Not much use for route planning: this map was really made just to show how the routes that ran into the city centre were grouped into geographic regions and denoted by a colour and an icon. While stops along the transit mall are now marked with boring old letters, back then these cheery and oh-so-1970s symbols guided you to the bus stop you needed. Also very 1970s: the tightly-kerned Avant Garde typeface.
(Source: TriMet’s “How We Roll” blog)
Updated: Aerial Photo Transit Map of Portland, Oregon — Now with Bus Routes!
Taylor Gibson’s aerial photo map of Portland’s rail and streetcar routes is one of the most popular posts ever on Transit Maps, so I thought I’d pass on this update to it, which now shows the bus network as well. The colours used match the official TriMet system map, although Taylor hasn’t shown peak hour-only services like the 51 up through Council Crest.
What this view really shows to effect is Portland’s grid-like bus network, which you can read more about (and learn why it’s so good) on Jarrett Walker’s Human Transit blog.
(Source: Submitted by Taylor to the Transit Maps Facebook page)
Submission - Unofficial Map: Portland, Oregon Rail Network by Taylor Gibson
When Taylor sent through his aerial photo map of Portland the other day, he also submitted this very interesting isometric map of the city’s rail network (MAX, WES and streetcar). Tyler is a self-proclaimed “total newbie at making transit maps”, but this is definitely a pretty solid effort.
Highly reminiscent of this isometric map of Stuttgart (Oct 2011, 5 stars), the 30-degree-angled route lines allow station labels to be set horizontally without clashing with each other, even in the congested downtown area. The only real problem area is the almost unavoidable mess created by the four separate “Pioneer Square” stations right in the middle of the map. I’ve noticed that these have been consolidated into one “mega-station” on TriMet’s new in-car maps, and that’s definitely a cleaner, more sensible approach to the problem in my eyes.
I also see a little influence from my own map of Portland’s rail system: both in the layout of the legend, and the fact that Taylor has decided to show the new MAX line to Milwaulkie as an extension of the Yellow Line, rather than the commonly expected “Orange Line”.
I do have a few minor criticisms: text in general is a little small and hard to read, although I can see how larger text would cause layout problems (perhaps a condensed typeface could solve this), and there are a couple of confusing label clashes: the parking symbol for Gateway TC is right on top of the station marker for Parkrose/Sumner TC, for example. It’s also a little sad to see the streetcar relegated to thin unlabelled lines, but the space limitations of the map almost demand this treatment.
Still, for a “newbie”, this is pretty darn awesome. Great work, Taylor!
Submission - Aerial Photo Transit Map of Portland, Oregon
Submitted to the Transit Maps Facebook page by Taylor Gibson. While nowhere near as complex as the New York system featured previously, it’s still an interesting look at a successful rail transit system.
For those unfamiliar with Portland, the thicker lines (Yellow, Green, Blue and Red — shown here as pink for visual clarity, I think) are the MAX light rail, while the thinner aqua and lime green lines are the Portland Streetcar, which has recently expanded to the eastern side of the Willamette River (the top half of this photo).
Eventually, the aqua “Loop” streetcar line will cross back over to the western side of the Willamette at the extreme right of this photo via the new transit-only bridge that is currently being constructed. The bridge will also carry buses, pedestrians, cyclists and the new Orange MAX line.
(Photo Source: DubbaG/Wikipedia — Creative Commons License)
Official Map: Portland MAX Horizontal Strip Map
The newest rolling stock used on Portland’s MAX light rail (Siemens S70 cars, known as “Type 4”) has enough room above the doors to display a horizontal version of the system map. Types 1 through 3 don’t have this space, and instead display an unwieldy portrait-oriented version of the map that bears little resemblance to geographical reality.
Interestingly, this map is not the same as the official system map found on TriMet’s website or ticket machines (despite sharing the same orientation and very similar proportions) but instead is yet another completely different layout. Wisely, the information on the map has been simplified down to the essentials — route lines and stations. Even the WES Commuter Rail has been omitted: there’s simply a note at the Beaverton Transit Center station noting that transfers to the weekday rush-hour only service can be made.
However, the map is also arguably the most geographically accurate version that TriMet has made: the Red and Blue lines take a big detour southwards from Sunset TC to Beaverton TC on the west side, just like in real life. Similarly, the Blue Line’s realignment from alongside I-84 to E Burnside St after Gateway TC makes an appearance. Even the slight changes in direction at either end of the Blue Line are reminiscent of actual geography.
Finally, of particular interest to me is the map’s striking use of 30- and 60-degree angles. Hmmmm, where have I seen that before?
Portland, Oregon: New Motor Coaches Replace Last Street Cars, February 26, 1950
Here’s an amazing full page ad that ran in The Oregonian on Thursday, February 23, 1950 to announce the end of an era in Portland. The last few remaining streetcar lines — to Council Crest, Willamette Heights and 23rd Avenue — were going to be replaced by “the very latest design in city transit equipment”, modern motor coaches. It’s interesting to compare the bulky, inefficient buses depicted here with their modern equivalents, especially in light of the glowing copy in the ad:
"The finest in heating and air conditioning … extra large windows for better natural light … increased electric lights … comfortable seating with deep upholstery … low entrance and exit steps".
The ad also includes a number of surprisingly clear and attractive route maps for the most popular lines, many of which were subject to route changes because of the then-new system of one-way streets that was being introduced in downtown Portland at the same time as the equipment change. The ad also exhorts the reader to contact the Portland Traction Company (PTC) Dispatcher if “route and schedule folders are desired” — we’re a long way from real-time arrivals information on our smartphones here!
Click through to Flickr to view the ad at a size where you can (just) read the type. Also, compare with this handsome map of PTC services from 1943 (April 2012, 4 stars) — all the streetcar routes shown on that map (the yellow route lines) have disappeared just seven years later.
Unofficial Map: Portland MAX Light Rail — Super Mario 3 Style
Here’s the latest “Mario Map” from the incredibly prolific Dave Delisle (seriously, how much cool stuff can one guy pump out?). This one is of my home town of Portland, Oregon, and Dave actually enlisted my help in checking the accuracy of the route layouts and the spelling of the station names. Considering the ridiculous length of some of the station names in the system and the limitations of the 8-bit art style, Dave’s done a great job at fitting everything together in a very plausible and attractive manner.
Of course, in true Portlandia style, Dave has literally “put a bird on it” — there’s also a non-birdified version over on his website if you don’t get the joke. Also of note is Dave’s playful take on the TriMet logo, and the fact that our princess seems to be stuck out at Expo Center, the poor thing.
(Source: Dave’s website — posters are for sale!)
As you may know by now, I create my own transit maps as well as write about them. But unless you’ve been following me for a while, you may not know exactly what I’ve done, and what I currently have available for purchase this holiday season. Here’s a quick rundown:
Interstates as a Subway Map and US Highways as a Subway Map
These two posters are by far my most popular items. Because I can print in bulk with my supplier, the fantastic Wallblank Printery, the price on these is excellent for the superb quality. Each 36” x 24” poster is just $39 plus $10 shipping, or you can buy a combo pack of both posters for just $68 plus shipping — a saving of $10 over buying each poster individually.
This will be the last Christmas that I offer these posters for sale, as I have plans for something bigger and better next year (which I’ve already been dropping hints about). So, if you’ve been thinking about picking one — or both — of these posters up, do it now. You won’t get another chance. Click through to the order page on my website here.
Not all the maps I create generate as much interest as the ones above, but I still make them available for purchase through my Society6 store. As these posters are print-on-demand, the cost per unit is a little bit higher than the ones I order in bulk through Wallblank, but these are still excellent ideas for unusual gifts for the transit geek in your life.
Note: Due to the fine type and detail in many of these maps, I really, really recommend that you purchase only the LARGE or X-LARGE print sizes that Society6 offers. You will almost certainly be disappointed (and the type will be illegible) if you go smaller than that.
Amtrak Passenger Rail System
Fully updated for 2012, this map shows all of Amtrak’s passenger rail services — split into route lines and colour-coded in the style of a subway map. Big preview here on Flickr.
Boston Rapid Transit Map
My own original redesign of Boston’s transit map. Comes in two flavours: one with key bus routes and the other without (which I like better — the map looks so much cleaner without it).
European International E-Road Network
A couple of years old now, but still one of my favourite maps. Who knew Europe had an international network of routes?
Rail Transit of Portland, Oregon
My own original version of a unified rail map of my home, Portland, Oregon. Shows MAX Light Rail and the Portland Streetcar — including the new Central Loop line on the eastside.
Passenger Rail of Portland, Oregon | 1912 | 1943 | 2015
Overlays passenger rail services — light rail, streetcar, interurban and intercity trains — from three different eras for a comparison of how things have changed over time.
Portland Streetcar Strip Map
A first look at the new in-car strip maps for Portland, Oregon’s streetcar system. With the opening of most of the eastside loop, there are now two lines: the original route is now the North/South (NS) line, and the new track is the Central (CL) line.
Unfortunately, for a brand new service that the city desperately wants everyone to like and use, the design of this map is terribly dowdy and old fashioned. There’s some good information there — I particularly like the inclusion of all the bridges over the Willamette River — but it’s just all crammed in with no room for anything to breathe. It may be usable, but it’s definitely not pretty.