Recreated Historical Map: East Berlin S-Bahn, 1980 by Maxwell Roberts

What does noted alternate transit map designer Maxwell Roberts do when he comes across a rare postcard version of the East Berlin S-Bahn network from 1980?

He takes a photo of it, and then recreates it using modern design tools, of course.

Remember that the S-Bahn was still operated by the GDR even in West Berlin, although West Berliners boycotted the service for the most part, preferring their own U-Bahn network. The Staatsgrenze (state border) totally dominates even this supposedly “unified” service map, and it’s clear in a number of places where the border has cut a rail line neatly in two. The only place where interchange between the two halves of the system was even remotely possible was at Friedrichstrasse, and even then only after rigorous border screening.

The map itself is quite lovely — much nicer than this more well-known map from around the same time — with bright rainbow colours, restrained European typography (an East German alternate cut of Futura, as the original typeface was not available there at the time!), and nice mode differentiation. 

Our rating: A superb restoration of an obscure but excellent map, both design-wise and historically. Five stars!

5 Stars!

Source: The Atlantic Cities

Historical Map: Berlin S-Bahn (c. 1955-1960) still at the ruined Siemensstadt station

What an amazing photo!

The Siemensbahn was part of Berlin’s S-Bahn network from 1929 (when it was built as a short spur line to allow workers to commute to and from the Siemens factories in the area) to 1980, when it was shut down after a railway workers’ strike. As seen on the map, the Siemensbahn is the short spur line just above and to the left of the large red area in the centre.

The map is located (or was, in 2008, when the photo was taken) at the Siemensstadt station, which now lies in ruins and largely forgotten. The original poster of Flickr dates it to around 1980, probably based largely on the time the station closed. However, I date it to somewhere around 1955 to 1960 for a few reasons.

Firstly, the map is pretty much hand-drawn and lettered. A map from 1980 would look more sophisticated, as this link shows.

Many of the outer lines are still steam-powered (cross-hatched lines are marked in the legend as “Mit Dampf…[torn]”).

While borders between West and East Berlin (as well as the Greater Berlin area) are shown, and there’s a clear colour differentiation between the two cities (blue for West Berlin, red for East), it’s still possible to travel between east and west. Each station is marked with both the time it takes to get there from Siemensstadt and the price… and these markings continue into East Berlin. Therefore, the map’s post-WWII, but before the Berlin Wall went up (1961).

Comparing this map from 1955 and this one from 1960 shows that the outer ring line around the northwest of the city was completed some time between these dates. This line is shown on this map, although it’s hard to see because of the damage to the map: this gives the best dating I can come up with without researching individual stations. Can anyone narrow it down even more?

Another point of interest is the East Berlin station of Stalinallee, where someone has crossed out Stalin’s name and replaced it with “Frankfurter”, a reference to its pre-war name: Große Frankfurter Straße. This grafitti could have been added at anytime in the decades since the map was first put up, but the “Stalinallee” name also helps date the map, as the street was renamed as Karl-Marx-Allee in 1961.

(Source: SnaPsi Сталкер/Flickr - definitely worth clicking through to the large version)

Historical Maps: West and East Berlin, 1984
Further to my previous posts, here’s a couple more maps from East and West Berlin, this time from 1984. Both are much better-designed than the examples shown earlier, and West Berlin has taken on the “U-number” line names that we know so well today. No further comments as the basic principles still hold true for each map - presented for comparison and completeness only. Historical Maps: West and East Berlin, 1984
Further to my previous posts, here’s a couple more maps from East and West Berlin, this time from 1984. Both are much better-designed than the examples shown earlier, and West Berlin has taken on the “U-number” line names that we know so well today. No further comments as the basic principles still hold true for each map - presented for comparison and completeness only.

Historical Maps: West and East Berlin, 1984

Further to my previous posts, here’s a couple more maps from East and West Berlin, this time from 1984. Both are much better-designed than the examples shown earlier, and West Berlin has taken on the “U-number” line names that we know so well today. No further comments as the basic principles still hold true for each map - presented for comparison and completeness only.