Historical Map: WMATA Metro Planning Map, 1968
WMATA planning map, dated March 1, 1968 and last revised by the WMATA Board on June 11, 1970.
Please view a full-size, searchable version of the map. (Navigational tools are at the bottom of the map.)
On March 1, 1968, WMATA officially adopted a 97.2 mile regional system in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. On February 7, 1969, WMATA revisited the rapid rail plan and relocated three of the stations, calling instead for 97.7 miles of track. The total system cost was $2.5 billion ($15.9 billion in today’s dollars) consisting of $835 million of revenue bonds issued by WMATA, $1.1 billion in federal funding, and $573.5 million from local sources. On June 11, 1970, the WMATA Board adopted a realignment of 2.5 miles of a mid-city route to better serve the city center. This revised version is posted above.
Metro originally had a future route planned to Dulles Airport—the final destination of Phase 2 of the soon-to-open Silver Line—the first half of which (to McLean, Tysons, Greensboro, Spring Hill, and Wiehle-Reston) is scheduled to begin service on Saturday, July 26, 2014.
This version of WMATA’s planning map also features a different path for a route that would materialize as Metro’s Green Line. The proposed north-south route through the District was set to feature a station near Logan Circle and run north toward a terminus in Laurel, Md. An alternate route trajectory, which was then being studied by WMATA, ran up-and-down 7th Street NW and featured station locations near what are now the Mt Vernon Sq 7th St-Convention Center and Shaw-Howard U Metro Stations.
According to this map, Metro also planned for a Metro line along a route that is similar to one followed by the proposed Columbia Pike streetcar in Arlington, Va.
Pro Tip: Note how the Metro Station names have changed over time.
Isaac Fischer writes:
Hi Cameron! I just wanted to thank you for your review of my map for the New Mexico Park and Ride system (July 2014, 3 stars). I thought I should let you know that I have contacted Park and Ride and they are considering adopting my map in place of their regular one. (I made the edits you suggested and also produced a miniature version that will more easily fit into their timetable.) I’ll let you know if they end up adopting the map.
One other thing that might interest you: I make all my maps in OmniGraffle, which is available for both Mac and iPad (but not for Windows or Linux machines). I wasn’t sure if you were aware of OmniGraffle’s potential for designing transit maps, but it is remarkably effective (I designed the Park and Ride map in about two hours). I never understood Illustrator or Inkscape; OmniGraffle is much more user-friendly. If you’re interested, I’d suggest checking it out.
Transit Maps says:
That’s very interesting news, Isaac! Hopefully they can see the value in a good system map and not only adopt it, but also pay you an amount that reflects that value for your work.
I’m aware of OmniGraffle, but I would have a couple of qualms about using it for professional map-making work.
Firstly, it’s not industry-standard software, which limits the ability to share work with other designers who don’t have the application, and it also prevents you from learning the Adobe Illustrator techniques and skills that would be required in a real-world job.
Secondly, I’m not sure of its ability to create proper four-colour process (CMYK) or spot-colour output files, which would be an absolute deal-breaker in a print production environment. Later conversion from RGB to CMYK could cause unwanted and unexpected colour shifts, especially with blacks and RGB colours that are brighter than can be printed in the limited CMYK gamut (greens and blues are especially susceptible to this). To be fair, I’ve seen conflicting reports on whether or not OmniGraffle can export a CMYK output file, so it may be capable of this.
In short, if you’d like to experiment with transit mapping for fun or as a hobby, then OmniGraffle looks like a cheap, easy to use solution. Isaac has certainly proved that quality work can be created in it. However, if you’re looking for a career in mapping, then there’s no way around it: learn Adobe Illustrator and learn it well.
Thanks also to “Bklynfatpants”, who left a comment on the site noting that it wasn’t necessarily fair to compare Isaac’s complete map with the tiny schematic that Park and Ride uses in their schedule. Park and Ride does have a complete system map, viewable here (PDF). It’s a geographical map, exported directly from GIS software. It’s still pretty bad, although admittedly much better than the itty-bitty schematic.
Submission - Historical Map, Boston Elevated Railway System, 1932
Submitted by emotingviamemes, who says:
This is an old Boston Elevated Railway Company map from a user guide I purchased at the wonderful Ward Maps store in Cambridge, MA. It’s a lovely relic of its time! The rest of the guide gives transit directions to landmarks and points of interest. I’m not exactly sure why the modern day Blue and Red Lines are the same color on here, unless some color had faded with age.
Transit Maps says:
Yep, it’s a beauty alright!
I’ve given up trying to comprehensively date Boston maps (one of my readers always comes up with more accurate dating than me!), so I’m just putting it in the rough range of 1928 to 1938, mainly based on the existence of the Atlantic Avenue Elevated line.
Note: Steven Beaucher from Ward Maps has identified this as the 1932 map for me (see, I told you someone else would know!).
Regarding the route colours as shown, I’d just say that it was done in an effort to minimise the number of colours used in the print job. The “yellow” and “red” lines on this map run concurrently with each other between Haymarket and North Station and thus need some visual differentiation to make them easy to follow, while the two “blue” routes only cross other routes and don’t interact with each other, so they can safely use the same colour. Assignation of route colours back in those early days of transit map design was quite random: even early pre-Beck London Underground maps could never really decide which line got which colour. And remember that Boston’s modern route colours were only defined in the late 1960s when the famous “spider map” was introduced.
Submission — Unofficial Map: Intercity and Commuter Rail of North America’s East Coast by Edward Powell
Submitted by Isaac Fischer, who says:
Here’s a neat map I found online that shows the entire American east coast, as well as southeastern Canada. It shows both commuter and intercity rail lines. As far as I can tell, it seems fairly accurate, and could definitely be useful.
Transit Maps says:
While there’s more than a passing resemblance to my own Amtrak Passenger Rail map here — both in the general aesthetics of the map and in the circle/line device used to indicate whether trains call at a station or not — this map adds another whole level of detail by adding commuter rail services (and eastern Canada!) to the mix.
Note that the map shows intercity and commuter rail only, meaning that in New York, for example, the LIRR and Metro-North lines are shown, but not the subway. For a map of this scale (the entire eastern seaboard), that seems like a wise choice.
The layout of the map is great: nice and clean, very diagrammatic but still mindful of the “lay of the land”. The use of a single, distinctive colour for each agency also works really well — Amtrak’s distinctive teal blue and purple for the MBTA commuter rail are especially effective.
However, I find the typography less inspiring, with labels at a lot of different angles combined with some fairly lacklustre type layout for the different agency legends.
Edward also could have proofed his work a little better (although it’s definitely difficult to do a project this size, as I well know!). Even a cursory look at the map revealed quite a few errors, including labelling all the commuter rail stations in Florida as “VIA”, rather than “TRI” for Tri-Rail. Lake Worth station is also included twice, at the expense of Boynton Beach. Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, a duplicate Chestnut Hill East station strangely serves as the terminus for the Chester Hill West line. And so on…
Our rating: great diagrammatic layout (although too huge to ever realistically be reproduced as a poster), but let down a bit by some average type treatment. Still a lot of detail to savour and enjoy, though! Three stars.
Source: Edward’s DeviantArt account
Submission - Historical Map: MARTA Rail System, 1984
Submitted by Chris Bastian. The map is almost identical to the one shown in this photo submitted by Matt Johnson a couple of years ago, but with the “Under Construction/Design” dots for the extremities of the North/South line clearly visible.
Amtrak On-Time Performance by Route
A neat little map/infographic accompanying an interesting article in the Washington Post about Amtrak’s inability to actually get people places on-time. Well, that’s what happens when you don’t own most of your track and freight trains get priority… but I digress.
The map does a good job at presenting the information in an interesting manner: the use of green to differentiate between “vaguely acceptable performance” and the varying shades of “are we ever going to get there?” purple is particularly nice.
However, the map does show one of the pitfalls of placing diagrammatic route lines onto a geographical background. The western terminus of the Missouri River Runner is shown correctly as Kansas City, MO, which the Southwest Chief also runs through. However, the 45-degree angle imposed on the Southwest Chief as it leaves Chicago means that it misses Kansas City by a considerable distance (by roughly half the state of Missouri, actually!). Whoops!
I’d also argue that the Texas Eagle should really only be shown from Chicago to San Antonio, as the Los Angeles section is really provided via a connection to the Sunset Limited at San Antonio (as shown on my own subway map-style poster of Amtrak routes).
Submission - Unofficial Map: Park and Ride Commuter Bus, Northern New Mexico by Isaac Fischer
Isaac submitted this in two parts, which I’ve combined into one post here.
Of the first image, Isaac says:
This is the map that New Mexico Park and Ride provides in their system timetable; it’s probably the worst designed transit map I’ve ever seen. Not only is the design quality abhorrent, but it doesn’t even show the routes as even REMOTELY geographically accurate, and fails to include about two-thirds of the stops. Why they felt it necessary to make their map in this way is beyond me.
The second image is Isaac’s quite lovely redesign of the system as a proper transit map. He’s also made a future fantasy map in the same style, but let’s compare apples with apples for now.
First off, Isaac’s appraisal of the map from the official timetable is spot on. It’s an absolute disgrace, and has instantly found a place in the Transit Maps Hall of Shame. I really don’t need to describe what’s wrong with it, because it’s pretty darn obvious. I particularly like the way that the Purple Line extends to Albuquerque, but the Turquoise Line – which also goes there – is drawn completely separately, not joining on to the top part of the map at all.
Isaac’s map, by comparison, is quite excellent. There are a few minor things that could be tweaked, but in general, this is lovely, clean design that makes the network look easy and efficient to use. I particularly like the nice, wide, sweeping curves that the routes make when they change direction: the big arc that the Turquoise Line makes as it comes into Albuquerque is quite delightful.
I’m not entirely sure about the use of Gill Sans as the main labelling type. While it’s a classic sans serif typeface, I always feel that the x-height is a little small for the best legibility. Here, that failing is especially noticeable in the smaller “subtitle” labels.
I probably would have made the shade used for the Purple Line a little darker to provide better contrast with the adjacent Blue Line through Los Alamos: at the moment, they sort of blur into each other as their colour intensity is very similar. Overall, I find the colours very pleasing, with a nice New Mexican desert feel to the palette, but these two colours could be adjusted a bit for better balance between them.
A bigger problem: using the same line thickness to denote peak hour Purple and Blue Line bus route extensions and the RailRunner commuter rail service between Belen and Santa Fe. Rail is a different transit mode to bus and needs to be differentiated visually from it.
Finally, a letter line designation – “B” for Blue, “R” for Red”, etc. – for each route could assist colour-blind users. There’s quite a bit of empty space, so adding a couple of markers at each terminus station shouldn’t be too difficult.
Our rating: The official map obviously gets a big, fat, ZERO.
Isaac’s is far superior and really very promising work. Three stars.
Historical Map: Map of Greyhound Lines and Principal Connecting Routes, 1938
From a booklet promoting sightseeing via Greyhound’s long-distance bus lines, which sounds like an absolutely awful way to see America. However, it’s a very handsome two-colour map that certainly highlights the apparent density of the network at that time.
Photo: 38 Bus Stop Map, Brooklyn
Rough as guts, but it gets the job done, I guess. Nice big route number, easy to spot “You Are Here” arrow, a north pointer, points of interest and street names. Go!
Source: H.L. Edwards/Flickr
Historical Map: Theoretical Diagram of Proposed Transit System, St. Louis, Missouri, 1919
Here’s a map that hyperrealcartography would love: an audacious, almost outrageous, proposal for a transit system in St. Louis drawn up by the City Plan Commission in 1919. The final proposed system shown here would have had the existing streetcars and new rapid transit lines operating side-by-side, described like this in the full proposal:
"The rapid transit system is separated into two distinct systems, that for the routing of surface cars in the downtown district, and that for a distinctly rapid transit system that would operate entirely by subway or elevated tracks within the city. There will be no contact of the two systems, excepting that the stations may be operated in common."
Under this proposal, almost every major street in the city would have had streetcar service. Many of the east-west routes (top to bottom on this diagram) would have funnelled towards new subway loops under the business district, which would have required the total abandonment of the 8th Street railway tunnel (now used by the Metrolink light rail). Seven crosstown lines would have provided comprehensive service for those wishing to bypass downtown.
Note that this is very definitely a theoretical diagram of the system, not a map. Even a very cursory glance at St. Louis in Google Maps reveals that the city’s actual layout is nowhere near as uniform and compliant as this.
The cost for this little project? Around $97 million in 1919: equating to a cool $1.1 billion in today’s money.
Source: Gateway Streets/Flickr
P.S. The entire proposal is scanned and available to read on Google Books: definitely worth a look if you’re interested in early 20th-century city planning.