Historical Poster: “Be Map Conscious”, London Transport, 1945
Here’s another beautiful old London Underground poster that features the Tube map, apparently produced to help servicemen unfamiliar with London get around. The poster, which basically acts as a Tube Map for Dummies guide, was placed next to the map in stations, with the abstract guard pointing towards it. The “tear-away” section at the bottom right shows a slightly modified version (angles aren’t at 45 degrees, the Aldwych spur is missing) of the central part of the map, which would have been this 1943 edition.
The artist was Polish-born Jan de Witt (1907-1991), signed as “Lewitt-Him” on the poster.
(Source: Creative Review)
Design for Shopping poster for London Transport, 1935
Design by O’Keeffe
via Mikey Ashworth
You just can’t beat 1930s London Underground posters - a superb mix of art, design and branding. This one’s a real beauty! Of interest is that it playfully echoes the look of Beck’s Tube Diagram, then only two years old.
Cute title. Made back in 2007, so the Circle Line is actually a loop, rather than the… ahh.. paperclip… it is now. Nicely done piece of whimsy.
Historical Map: Diagram of Tube Services, 7:00am, September 28, 1940
Here’s a fantastic historical document — a tube map used by engineers in London to mark out the status of services on the Underground during World War II. By the look of it, this map was updated at least daily, if not even more often, as this date falls squarely within the Blitz — a period where London was bombed for 57 consecutive nights by the Luftwaffe.
The map itself looks like a modified hand-drawn version of H.C. Beck’s 1936 Tube Diagram, with all stations shown as circles and some main line track added as well. The use of the map is simple: a red line along track shows that there is no service along that segment, while a blue circle (seen between Belsize Park and Chalk Farm, for example) indicates the location of an exploded bomb. It would also seem that the circle for a station is also coloured red if it is substantially damaged or destroyed. Most horrifying of all, a red cross marks the location of an unexploded bomb. Notes written in a beautiful, precise hand add detail to these symbols where necessary — “unsafe buildings”, “single tunnel only available for traffic: SB tunnel damaged by bomb”.
Our rating: An incredible historical document that vividly recalls the dangers and horrors faced by Londoners during the Blitz. 5 stars!
"Stitched Subways - London" by Susan Stockwell, 2007
One of the loveliest reinventions of the London Tube Map I’ve seen so far — simply red thread stitched onto rice paper. It’s bigger than it looks: 100cm wide by 30cm deep, so it would certainly look impressive on a wall!
(Source: Susan’s website)
Historical Map: 1896 German Map of the London Underground
This map of the nascent London Underground and “other railways” appears in the 14th edition of Brockhaus’ Konversations-Lexikon, a respected German encylopedia that is still in business today. Now known simply as the Brockhaus Enzyklopädie, the 21st edition was published in 2006 and runs to over 24,000 pages in 30 volumes.
The map itself is pretty simple and traditional, notable for being printed in three colours (black, red and a rather lovely teal blue). Production-wise, this means the map was almost certainly printed separately to the main body of the encyclopedia (which was printed with black ink only), and tipped-in by hand as the main volume was bound and assembled.
Also interesting is the map’s use of both German and English labels: while the Underground bears labels like “City u. Südlondonbahn” and the river proudly wears the name “Themse”, many of the main railway lines and localities are named in their native tongue. I’m not sure why this is: perhaps the map was altered or copied from an original English source?
Our rating: With an 1896 date, this is one of the earlier Underground maps I’ve seen, and is interesting just for that reason alone. It’s not the greatest cartography, but it’s not really meant for navigation of the system, but for giving a broad overview in the context of an encyclopedia. Three stars.
(Source: homingmissileglow Tumblr)
P.S. Google Books has a 1908 update of this map available as part of their digitized collection - click here to view it.
London Underground Quilt
Made as a wedding gift for two transit nerd friends, this is beautiful work. The artist wasn’t content with just Zone 1 or a simplification: this is the whole map, including the DLR and the Overground with their distinctive white centre-stroked route lines.
Click here to view the entire set of photos on Flickr, including lots of work-in-progress shots. Simply stunning!
Unofficial Map: London Underground Map Recreated Entirely in CSS
Even though I’m mainly a print designer, I’ve done enough web design work to know how fiddly (yet also powerful) Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) can be. That’s why I’m totally in awe of this incredibly accurate rendition of the Tube Map, created with nothing but code by John Galatini. Not one image file to be seen! Johnston Sans is recreated with a web font, while the symbols for accessibility, National Rail, ferries, the Emirates Airline, etc. seen on the map are all “drawn” completely with CSS code. John estimates that the project took around 120 hours to complete, and I can believe him!
While the project’s website gives some great technical information on how the map was achieved, I prefer John’s own description on Twitter:
“It’s basically lots of rectangles and squares, lots of border-radius (to create circles) and a shit load of css rotation.”
Our rating: An astounding example of what CSS can do. Five stars!
(Source: CSS Tube website)
Historical Map: (1985?) London Tube Map
This map has certainly seen better days! The fact that the Hammersmith & City (salmon pink) line is not shown dates this map prior to 1990: the “peak hour only” dashed line on the very light purple Metropolitan Line, combined with the black text for station names leads me to believe that this is the 1985 map. By 1987, the Metropolitan Line had become a much darker colour, and station labels were the now-familiar blue.
(Back in) Time Tunnel
I love it when people find old transit maps still in situ at stations. This Northern Line map at Embankment dates from sometime prior to 1999 (the year that the Jubilee Line platforms at Charing Cross closed), but is still in place today — this photo was taken on February 21, 2013.
Note also the beautiful 1914 green glazed tiles next to the map.