Historical Map: San Francisco BART & Buses Map, September 1977
Front cover for a 1977 map of BART and connecting bus services with some great late-1970s typography: tightly spaced Helvetica*, yum! That BART icon is also pretty amazing and is just asking to be digitally recreated. However, there’s something screwy about that map, as much of BART appears to be located in or underneath the San Francisco Bay. Global warming, perhaps?
Hardly: some quick Photoshop analysis reveals that the underlying map has simply been erroneously rotated 180 degrees and flipped horizontally: that’s the San Mateo Bridge at the “top” of the Bay. Whoops!
Source: Luke O’Rourke/Flickr
Great photo that pretty much encapsulates the BART experience. Looks like the old, more geographically-faithful map in the car.
Source: Xuan Che/Flickr
Photo: Coast to Coast
Lady with a NYC subway map umbrella looking at a Muni map in San Francisco. Great photo!
(Source: the N Judah Chronicles/Flickr)
Fantasy Map: North American Metro Map by Mark Knoke
Obviously inspired by — and clearly credited as such — the brilliant xkcd “Subways of North America” map, here’s a quite staggeringly detailed map of pretty much every rail-based rapid transit system in North America, including future expansions and upcoming new systems like Honolulu’s HART elevated light rail. Like the xkcd map, all the systems link up at their termini to form one giant Metro map that spans the entire continent.
True, the map isn’t the most visually attractive piece — it’s very basic in its construction and has labels going just about everywhere, but the sheer level of effort required simply has to be appreciated. By my count, there are forty-seven (yes, 47!) separate systems represented on this map, from the New York subway to the Tren Urbano in San Juan, Puerto Rico and all points in between. Each and every station is labelled. For the most part, the systems adhere to their standard map layout, although obviously some tweaks have had to be made to make them join up.
While I haven’t checked every detail, I have noticed that the Tacoma Link light rail in Tacoma, Washington is missing. It’s part of Sound Transit’s network, although physically separate from the main Central Link line that runs from SeaTac Airport to downtown. The inclusion of the the much-maligned Detroit People Mover is interesting (is it really proper “rapid transit”?), and begs the question why the very similar Miami Metromover system isn’t also shown.
(Source: Mark Knoke/Flickr)
Historical Map: The Burlington Route (Chicago to San Francisco), 1879
Here’s a beautiful map from the glory days of American railroading, showing the route from Chicago to San Francisco via Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and California. Amtrak’s modern-day California Zephyr still calls at many of the same locations between Chicago and Omaha to the east and from Elko to Oakland in the west, but takes a different route through the middle, using Colorado instead of Wyoming.
Although presented as one continuous route, the journey is actually made up of smaller sections owned by multiple railroad companies: the section from Chicago to Omaha is the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, then Union Pacific to Sacramento and the Western Pacific the rest of the way. Many other railroads have track that connects to and branches off this main trunk route — Southern Pacific, Central Pacific, Utah Central & Southern, Utah & Northern, Central Railroad of Iowa… the list seems endless!
The map itself is packed full of information: the population of towns, connecting rail and stagecoach services, the distance from either Chicago or San Francisco, the elevation of the railroad (cleverly shown as a green profile line below the map), and even the terrain type and major industries and land uses along the way — “heavy timber”, “gold and silver mines”, “elegant farms”, etc. Poor Stockton, CA is noted for its “insane asylum” (see detail image above). As the blurb at the bottom of the map proclaims, “Armed with this Guide, the passenger needs no further information.”
About the only thing that lets this map down is the low quality printing. There’s a lot of poorly registered colours, which slightly spoil the flamboyant and stylish look of the map. The design certainly asks a lot of a late-19th century (pre-offset lithography) printing press!
Our rating: A superb piece of American railroading ephemera, only slightly spoiled by poor printing. Four-and-a-half stars!
(Source: The Big Map Blog)
Historical Map: San Francisco Muni Transit Routes, 1970
For a long period of time, the San Francisco Municipal Railway, (commonly shortened to just “Muni”) used pretty much exactly the same map in their brochures. It seems that each year, they’d simply make any amendments required — addition of new routes, deletion of old ones, etc. — and then reprint the brochure/map in a new colour combination.
The earliest example I can find, from 1952, uses a sombre two-color palette of black and red, mostly tinted down to greys and pinks. However, by 1970, the map had evolved into this gloriously garish three-colour purple, yellow and black vision that suits the post-Summer of Love San Francisco perfectly.
The map shows all Muni streetcar, coach and cable car services, but with no visible mode differentiation — express services are shown with a dashed line. However, the map’s actually pretty clean and easy to follow: route termini are clearly shown by route numbers in large circles, and there’s enough smaller numbers along each route to allow you to follow them from one end to the other.
Also of note: basic fare is just 20 cents!
Our rating: Groovy, man! A psychedelic re-imagining of a long-serving and functional map. Four stars.
(Source: Eric Fischer/Flickr)
Historical Map: Rapid Transit for San Francisco: Monorail Alternative,1952
Well, thank goodness this never eventuated. Can you imagine an elevated monorail running down the length of Market Street?
From a 1952 San Francisco Public Utilities Commission report entitled Rapid Transit for San Francisco: Monorail, Elevated, Subway? A Report of Possibilities.
(Source: Eric Fischer/Flickr)
Historical Map: Oakland-San Francisco “Key System” Commuter Rail Routes, c. 1939—1940
A charming, if simplistic, map of commuter rail services offered by the Key System company. Some sources on the Internet date this to 1941: however, the prominent “Exposition Ferry from Ferry Bldg.” callout box would seem to link this map to the timeframe of the Golden Gate International Exposition held on Treasure Island between February 1939 and September 1940.
These dates mean that the Bay Bridge, the Transbay Terminal in San Francisco and the transbay commuter rail routes as shown on the map are all pretty much brand spanking new. By 1958, commuter rail over the Bay Bridge had ceased operations: the Key System replaced these services with buses, and were themselves taken over by AC Transit in 1960. AC Transit’s B, C, E, and F lines still roughly follow the corresponding Key System routes today.