Historical Map: Thüringerwaldbahn Tram Mural, Tabarz, East Germany, 1989

A photo from 1989 of a newly-painted mural celebrating 60 years of the Thüringerwaldbahn, an interurban tram service running 22km between Gotha and Tabarz.

As the original poster on Flickr notes, the scale of the map is “fanciful”, but it’s really meant more as a (rather lovely) decorative overview than an actual map.

I’d be interested to know if the mural is still there, some 24-odd years later.

(Source: sludgegulper/Flickr)

Submission - Historical Map: Amsterdam GVB Map by Hans van der Kooi, 1980s

Submitted by Alain Lemaire, who says:

this map might interest you - in response to your blog post of Joan Zalacain’s Amsterdam tram map.

It seems the 30/60 degree paradigm is indeed well suited to Amsterdam’s topological layout. Too bad this once official map is no longer in use today.


Transit Maps says:

Thanks to Alain for sending this beauty in! Simply put, this is lovely work. What I really like about this map is the way it combines multiple tram routes into just four colours, each representing a different service pattern:

  • Red for trams from Amsterdam Centraal station to points west.
  • Blue for Amsterdam Centraal to points east
  • Green for east-west “inner ring” cross-town services
  • Yellow for east west “outer ring” cross-town services

This approach also has the benefit of implying service frequency: the thicker the line, the more often a tram comes along. Other services — the Metro and NS trains are incorporated with a minimum of fuss, and there’s clear information about connecting services where appropriate. Large bodies of water (but only the Amstel, not the city’s famous canals) give some geographical scope to the map. If I have one complaint, it’s that I’m never really a fan of keylining a yellow route line with black: it always looks a little overpowering to my eyes.

Our rating: Fantastic, restrained, useful European 1980s design. Four-and-a-half-stars.

4.5 Stars!

Historical Map: “Opening Day” Washington, DC Metro Map, 1976

Directly related to yesterday’s post, here’s an even older map of the Washington, DC Metro — this one is from an informational pamphlet released for the March 29, 1976 opening of the first part of the system, and is clearly dated at he bottom right.

Inexplicably, the Red Line is a dark burgundy colour, while the Orange Line is shown as red, even though they’re both clearly labelled correctly in the legend. How a printing error of this magnitude occurred is beyond me: with four-colour printing, you’d have to add about 40 percent more magenta ink to turn orange into red, and turning red into burgundy requires the addition of a lot of black ink where absolutely none should exist. Totally bizarre!

In another difference from yesterday’s map, you can see that neither Dupont Circle or Gallery Place are open for business yet.

Finally, long time correspondent Matt Johnson — who knows more about the Washington Metro than I ever will — has sent in some interesting information regarding some of the alignments shown on these old maps.  I noted yesterday that these old maps don’t have the distinctive kink in the Yellow/Green line near U Street — Matt tells me that’s because at this time there wasn’t planned to be one.

As shown, the plan was for the Green and Yellow Lines to continue directly north from 7th Street into Georgia Avenue (the northern extension of 7th Street) to Kansas Avenue and then on to the current alignment at Fort Totten. Later changes pushed the alignment across to 14th Street and then along New Hampshire Avenue to Fort Totten. And thus, a distinctive visual feature of the modern map was born (and here was I thinking that they put it in to accommodate the ridiculous length of U Street station’s current name!)

Matt also notes that the southern end of the Green Line was changed over time to something of a “hybrid” alignment. Originally, he says, the Green Line was to go to Rosecroft via Congress Heights. By the 1970s, that had changed, and the new plan was to send the line to Branch Avenue via Alabama Avenue, as shown on this map.

However, a lawsuit was brought that WMATA had not held public hearings in the DC area, and as a result a hybrid alignment was chosen. In DC, the line went via Congress Heights (as if it was going to Rosecroft). In Prince George’s the line headed for Branch Avenue. At the District Line, there’s a kink to connect the two different alignments.

Strangely, that kink only appeared on the official map with the recent Rush+ revision, even though it’s always physically been there!

(Source: later in the same Subchat.com thread from yesterday)

Historical Map: Plans for New York Subway Expansion, 1920

I found out about this awesome map from a tweet from Vanshnookenraggen (otherwise known as Andrew Lynch) just the other day.

Originally, I was just going to post the black and white map from the 1920 New York Times article that the original blog post references, but then I realised that the image on the blog linked to a super high resolution PDF of the map. As I found the map in the newspaper article a bit difficult to decipher (lots and lots of intersecting black lines!), I decided to colour it up in Photoshop myself, just to make everything a bit easier to see and understand.

Not everything is perfect: the source material looks like it’s been (understandably) scanned from an actual copy of the newspaper, so a lot of finer detail has been lost. It looks like some of the proposed lines are actually improvements of the existing track and really should be a thick red line superimposed on a thin black line (look closely, and you can see that some red dashed lines are joined together by a thinner line). However, especially in the tangled web of downtown Manhattan, I really couldn’t make things out, so all thicker lines are red.

The map itself details the almost outrageous plans for expansion that the New York Subway had way back in 1920 — everything you see in red was planned to be built in the next twenty-five years (by 1945!). Of course, not everything seen here has come to fruition, but you can’t accuse the planners of not thinking big!

Head on over to Flickr to look at the map in high resolution — and let me know what you think of my handiwork!

Prints for sale at Society6 or Zazzle.

(Source: Cameron Booth/Flickr via @vanshnook)


The Tyne and Wear Metro system map peeks out from between two carriages at the St. James station in this great old photo from 1982.

(Source: jp4712/Flickr)

Historic Map: Mid-1980s Glasgow Underground Map

Still in situ at the West Street station. For me, this could be dated to the mid-1980s just by the illustration style alone: this scratchy detailed-but-slightly-cartoony style was all the rage then, and could be found in just about every clip art book of the period (back when you actually physically cut or “clipped” the art from a page!).

(Source: neate photos/Flickr)