Historical Map: Société des Tramways de Constantinople Tram Ticket, c. 1920s
A very interesting early topological transit diagram from Istanbul. It’s tricky to date precisely: the best I can do is the range 1923–1939, based on the lines shown and the fact that the STM was dissolved at the latter date when transit in Istanbul was nationalised.
It’s probably roughly contemporaneous with other early topological maps like George Dow’s work for the LNER in 1929, although I actually see this map being born out of necessity, rather than being any great pioneering design work. That’s because the map is printed on a small ticket, and was used by the ticket seller/conductor to mark the destination that the ticket is valid to. Note the blue marks on “Aller” and “Bechiktache” — this was sold as a one-way ticket to that destination. Obviously, a geographical map couldn’t fit into this tiny space, hence the necessity for this simplified topological representation.
The other interesting thing about this map is that Istanbul is flipped along the axis of the Golden Horn. Destinations that should be on the left of that waterway (looking at it on a standard map, with north to the top) are shown on the right and vice versa. The tram bridge across the Golden Horn is clearly shown on the map (as “Pont”, bridge in French). I know that Arabic reads from right to left: is this flipping of locations a concession to that?
Finally, I adore the little squiggly arrows that show how the lines connect between each stop.
Our rating: Amazing transit ephemera from the early 20th century. Five stars!
(Source: Ottoman History Podcast/Flickr)
Unofficial Map: Istanbul Rapid Transit, by Kerim Bayer
One of the things I love about running this blog is when amateur map designers send me their work for review. The quality of these maps is often amazing, and this one of Istanbul’s rapid transit network by Istanbul native Kerim Bayer is a fantastic example.
Design- and quality-wise, it far surpasses the official map (shown in the images above for comparative purposes), which is a bit of a shambles: weird angles, muddy colours, poorly drawn and a bit old-fashioned. By contrast, Kerim’s map is bright, clear and modern.
Have we been there? No.
What we like: It’s obvious a lot of thought and attention to detail has gone into this map, including what parts of Istanbul’s transit system actually constitute “rapid transit”. As a result, dedicated BRT bus routes are shown, but the city’s two short gondola cable cars are not.
The general layout of the map is very pleasing, with nice even spacing between stations and well thought-out interchanges between lines. I especially like the addition of walking distances between platforms to give an idea of how long a transfer might take.
The colours used throughout the map are bright and modern - the substitution of light blue for water instead of a heavy grey makes a huge difference to the mood of the map.
What we don’t like: Despite looking fantastic, there is one huge drawback with Kerim’s map: everything is just too small in comparison to the finished size of the map. The PDF Kerim sent me is around 41 inches wide, or just over a metre. This seems to me to be a realistic final size for an in-car map, or a map you might find at a train station. However, his station labels at that final size are set at a mere 12 points - far too small to be read at any distance, or on a moving train.
Similarly, I feel that the route lines themselves are a little thin and spindly at the map’s final size - especially for the “under construction” routes, which have a white stroke down the middle of the line, making them very visually weak at any distance. I’d also like to see a little more differentiation between the different modes of transit shown on the map: at the moment it’s a little hard to tell which lines are BRT as opposed to tram or light rail, for example.
Finally, Kerim’s map sacrifices some information shown on the official map, such as the location of park-and-ride stations. While it helps his map look cleaner, this is important information for commuters and should be considered for inclusion.
Our rating: A beautiful-looking map that suffers slightly because of real-world considerations, but still an amazing piece of work that shows great potential. Four stars.
(Source: via email from Kerim)