Historical Maps: Surface Trolley Lines and Elevated/Subway Lines of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company, 1913
A superb pair of maps that depict the trolley lines (top) and elevated and subway lines (bottom) of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit (BRT) Company as they would appear after the work specified in the famous “Dual Contracts" agreement was completed. Much of today’s existing subway system came about because of this contract, as can be seen from the red (proposed) lines on the lower map.
For me, the top map is even more interesting — it shows how incredibly dense the trolley system in Brooklyn was at the time.
(Source: University of Texas Library map collection)
Official Map: Île-de-France Regional Transit Map
Brought to my attention by readers Tony and Guillaume is this striking new regional transit map for the Île-de-France region that surrounds Paris.
It shows not only the Paris Métro (lines 1 through 14), but also the tramways (Lines T1 through T7), RER lines (lines A through E) and the Transilien commuter rail network (lines H, J, K, L, N, P, R and U). In addition to all this, it also manages to show a wide array of bus routes and indicate travel zones! That it can do all this while still looking quite lovely is definitely an achievement.
Issued by the Syndicat des Transports d’Ile de France (STIF) and designed by LatitudeCartagene, the map is starting to pop up at stations across Paris, replacing an older, more geographically-based map.
It’s interesting to note that while the map shows the entire Métro, it isn’t based on the official map of that network and has instead been drawn from scratch — a wise choice. It also uses Frutiger as the main typeface, rather than the RATP’s bespoke Parisine font. However, it does share the Métro map’s slightly muted pastel colour palette, which means that the few really bright colours like the blazing red of the RER “A” line really jump out.
The map uses an interesting mix of angles to allow all the routes to meet up with each other, as well as some lovely sweeping curves, especially the RER “C” line along the banks of the Seine. In general, the RER and Transilien lines have more flowing curves than the Métro, which works well to visually separate them. The bus routes are shown as straight lines with very tight curves when they change direction.
About the only fault with this map is the lack of a legend: the distinction between the RER lines (route letter in a circle) and Transilien lines (route letter in a square) isn’t immediately apparent, and I’m still not entirely sure why some bus routes are orange and others are blue (orange routes mainly serve central Paris, while blue routes seem to serve the outer areas or be express routes).
Our rating: Basically, I love this: a huge, complex network of interconnecting routes and transit modes simplified and rendered in a stylish, understandable way. Hopefully, it’s future-proofed to cope with the upcoming expansion of Métro and RER services. Four-and-a-half stars!
(Source: Official STIF vianavigo site — PDF download)
Historical Map: AC Transit Route Map, 1967
Sweet illustrated map of bus routes in the East Bay, including a multitude of transbay services: I count 16 crossing the Bay Bridge to San Francisco!
As with all maps of this ilk, the fun part is finding all the little details in the illustrations that are liberally scattered throughout (My favourite is probably the sailor who is busily chatting up the cute nurse at the top centre of the map). The subtle painted texture of the mountains at the top of the map is also rather lovely.
Although quite whimsical in execution, the map actually conveys a lot of useful information as well: local, intercity and transbay services are all differentiated by colour; rush-only services are denoted by a square route box, rather than a circle. Different zones are also shown simply and efficiently by simple line across a route: the zone numbers are placed on the relevant side of that line. Effective, but not overpowering.
Our rating: Lovely late 1960s design. Lots of fun to be had poring over this one. Four stars!
Historical Map: New Orleans Streetcar Trackage Map, 1945
A neat little map from the July, 1945 edition of the Electric Railroader’s Association’s Headlights magazine — both the association and the publication are still going strong today.
The map shows all the tracks in the Big Easy at the time, including those that were in usable condition but not currently utilised (indicated by a hash across the track). Routes are indicated by letters that were keyed to the text of the original article — “A” is the “Canal-Cemeteries” route, for example.
The editor of the web page where I found this map provides the following notes:
"There are some small problems with this map, but overall, the details are accurate. Unfortunately, [the artist] did not sketch the trackage of the Napoleon Yard, at the foot of Napoleon Ave. on the southeast corner of Tchoupitoulas St. Also, at Canal St., Royal and Bourbon Streets (Bourbon is not labelled) should be shown in line with St. Charles and Carondelet Streets, respectively. A four-track crossover should be shown in the block of Canal St. between Carondelet and St. Charles."
(Source: New Orleans in 1945, ed. J. George Friedman, Jr.)
Unofficial Map: Hand-Drawn Danish InterCity Train Network
Submitted by Halid Karpović, who says:
It’s Halid again, who’s already submitted you the transit diagram of Sarajevo. This time, I’ve got something I’ve made myself.
When I was on vacation in Denmark a while ago, I got a leaflet with timetables of the Danish InterCity lines, operated by DSB. Then, I took a pencil and four sheets of paper and drew a transit diagram with its help. Et voilà, this is the result! I’d be happy to know what you think about it!
Transit Maps says:
This is pretty neat, Halid! I definitely use grid paper and a pen when I have a problematic area of a map to solve, and it’s also a great way to sketch out concepts before getting into the nitty-gritty computer-aided design part of the work.
Conceptually, this seems to follow much the same general layout that can be found in the DSB timetables, although you’ve enhanced the usefulness quite a lot by separating the routes out into their own numbered route lines and showing all the stations along the way.
About the only bit that doesn’t quite work is the area around Fredericia and Vejle: I’d straighten the kink in your station marker for Fredericia out and place the station marker for Vejle at a 45-degree angle, halfway through the 90-degree turn that the northwards routes take. This would eliminate that awkward 90-degree/45-degree combination curve you’ve got going on. But that’s the big advantage of sketching it out like this: now you can be fully aware of that problem area and solve it easily when it comes to final computer layout.
The only other comment I have is that the introduction of some 45-degree angles in the coastline might soften the shapes up a little: the rigid 90-degree-only shapes can look a little harsh.
Historical Map: Homeward Passenger Movement During the Evening Rush Period, Toronto, 1915
Beautiful diagram indicating the patterns of homeward peak-hour travel via public transportation (at this time, mainly streetcar) in Toronto. By my rough count, the collection of yellow dots in the downtown area represents some 49,500 people.
Of particular interest are the red-and-white hatched dots, which represent a point where passengers transfer from the privately-run Toronto Railway Company’s (TRC) streetcars to those of the city-owned Toronto Civic Railways. Due to a disagreement over the terms of the franchise, the TRC refused to offer streetcar service in newly-annexed portions of Toronto, forcing the city to create its own service in those areas. In 1921, the TRC’s franchise expired and all transit was consolidated under the new Toronto Transportation Commission, the forerunner to today’s Toronto Transit Commission.
If you look closely (click on the image to be taken to a much larger version of the map), you can see that ridership totals are also shown for the civic railways, just in a fine black hatching instead of the more prominent blue used for the services branching out of the downtown area.
Visually quite similar to this map of the morning peak flow on the New York City subway in 1954.
(Source: Toronto Transit Alliance)
Historical Photo: Detroit Department of Street Railways (DSR) Coach and Car Stop Locator, c. 1955
An interesting twist on the old push-button interactive transit map. Instead of pressing a button to map out your route, here you press a button to find out where in Detroit’s downtown area to board your bus or streetcar. Although difficult to make out, the text along the bottom of the map seems to read: “To locate your loading zone, press button on your line.” I’m not entirely sure how successful this innovation was, as everyone in the photo seems to have an air of confusion about them.
(Source: WSU Virtual Motor City Collection)
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)
Tutorial: Applying a Stroke BEHIND Type in Adobe Illustrator
Let me preface this tutorial by saying that — without a shadow of a doubt — this is my number one most favourite, time-saving, map-making Adobe Illustrator trick ever.
When making transit maps, it’s preferable — for both aesthetics and readability — to not have any labels overlay a route line or other elements. However, sometimes it’s simply unavoidable, as in the detail of my Boston MBTA map redesign at the top of the image above (circled in blue). When you absolutely have to overlay type over another element, it’s a good idea to separate it from that element with a stroke (or “keyline”) around the type that’s the same colour as your map’s background (often white with transit maps).
"Well, that’s easy," I hear you say, "I’ll just duplicate the text, put the copy behind the original and apply a stroke to that duplicate!"
That’s well and good for isolated examples, but what if you’ve got lots of text that you need to do this to? Or what if you make a typo in the label? Using this method, you’d have to correct it twice - once for each duplicate of the label.
There’s a better way to do it: you just need to know one little trick.
STEP ONE above shows a typical text label and Illustrator’s Appearance palette (Window menu > Appearance or Shift-F6). Note that the text is made up of a black fill with no stroke: the standard appearance for text.
In STEP TWO, I’ve applied a 2-point magenta stroke to the text (You’d probably want to use the same stroke colour as the background of your map; I’ve just used magenta to make the effect easier to see). The stroke sits on top of the fill in the stacking order, and — try as you might — can’t be demoted to sit underneath the fill, where we want it to be: note how the visibility icons for each are greyed out, meaning they can’t be moved. Strangely, the stacking order of text fills and strokes cannot be changed in Illustrator.
(If you’ve ever tried to add a stroke to a text object in Illustrator before, this is where you’ve probably given up in disgust.)
So, here’s the good bit.
In STEP THREE, I’ve drawn a rectangle and given it the fill and stroke that we want the text to eventually have: a black fill and a 2-point magenta stroke. I also like to give my stroke corners a round join — it softens the stroke a little and generally looks better than a mitre join.
Unlike type objects, the stacking order for normal objects or paths is editable, so — while the rectangle is selected — drag the stroke below the path in the Appearance palette. The stroke will now sit behind the fill on the actual rectangle.
STEP FOUR: Open the Graphic Styles palette (Window menu > Graphic Styles or Shift-F5) and drag the rectangle into the palette. You’ve just made a graphic style out of the attributes of the rectangle (stacking order included), which you can now apply to other objects with just a couple of clicks. If you like, give it a descriptive name: I’ve called mine “Keylined Type”.
STEP FIVE: Delete the rectangle: it’s done its work. Select the label text, then click on your newly created “Keylined Text” graphic style. The label now has a stroke that sits behind the fill, just where we want it, as STEP SIX shows in the Appearance palette. Even better, the fill and stroke are now fully adjustable and editable — change the colour, stroke width, or even move the stroke back above the fill!
For new labels that need to look the same, you can either duplicate the one you’ve just made, or simply type the label and then apply the graphic style as needed. No more typing text labels twice, just because you need a keyline around it!
There’s always more than one way to do things in Adobe Illustrator. As I’ve had pointed out to me, you can skip the step that requires you to draw and style another object by adding a new stroke to the text in a particular way. If you select your text with the arrow tool, and then use the “Add New Stroke” button at the bottom of the Appearance palette (or the same command via the palette’s flyout menu), that stroke becomes fully editable and stackable. You can then make a new graphic style directly from your text. Why does it work when you add a stroke to text via the palette and not when you add it by simply clicking on a colour to use as a stroke? No good reason I can see!
P.S. If you like this tip, or any others that I’ve posted under the "tutorial" tag, please feel free to reblog or tweet about it — let’s share the knowledge!
Historical Map: Montreal Tramways Company, 1941
Here’s a very handsome map of transit in 1941 Montreal, provided by the Montreal Tramways Company, or La Compagnie des Tramways de Montreal. Despite the name, there’s also a healthy (and growing) number of bus routes on this map, shown in blue.
Cleverly, the map rotates the city away from true north in order to fit everything onto the sheet of paper allocated, and the north pointer used is simply lovely, even including the company’s “MTC” monogram.
The map does a lot with just three colours, clearly differentiating between bus and tram services while highlighting regular services versus supplementary/rush hour ones with a minimum of fuss. The callout boxes for main stations are lovely, with the names contained within an ornate scroll at the top of the box.
My favourite part of the map, however, is how it effortlessly deals with the requirement to present information in both French and English. It even goes so far as to have one information box say “Index of/des Routes” while the other states “Index des/of Routes”, so that no-one feels that the other side got a better deal.
Finally, the roundel that the MTC uses for its logo looks awfully familiar...
Our rating: Quite lovely — clear and stylish. Four stars!