Historical Diagram: Charing Cross/Embankment Tube Station Cutaway, 1914
Simply stunning cutaway cross-section of the London Tube station now known as Embankment in 1914. This drawing shows the station just after the opening of the new deep tube extension of the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway (now part of the Northern Line) from their previous terminus to the north at Charing Cross station. The extension was a single line that headed south from Charing Cross, looped back around underneath the Thames and had a single platform heading northbound here at Embankment.
The diagram shows the C+E&H tube at the bottom right: it looks like a train has just left, heading back northwards to Charing Cross. To the left, the twin tubes of the Bakerloo line can be seen. Above, the shallow cut-and-cover tunnel of the District line runs at right angles to the deeper lines, built into the actual river embankment from which the station received its name. Above them all sits the grand old Charing Cross main line railway station, with The Strand just visible at its far end (a helpful caption, “This is The Strand”, points the way).
More than anything, it’s the detail of this cutaway that I like the most. Busy people enter and exit the station, read newspapers and ride the escalators between levels. A double-decker omnibus and Edwardian car can be seen chugging along the street, and trains belch steam in the station above. Advertisements adorn the walls, and the red carriages of the Tube fairly rattle along the tracks. An early version of the Underground roundel – a red circle with a blue bar across it – can be seen above the station’s building and on the District line platform.
If the naming of the station seems a little confusing, that’s because it was. In 1914, the District line platforms were named Charing Cross (for the main line station almost directly above), while the two separate deep tube lines were both called Embankment. The C+E&H station directly to the north, which was previously just Charing Cross, became Charing Cross (Strand). By 1915, everyone had had enough of this nonsense and all the platforms at this station took on the District line name of Charing Cross, while Charing Cross (Strand) became simply Strand. At the same time, the separate Strand station on the Piccadilly line was renamed as Aldywch to prevent even more confusion.
In June 1973, the newer Northern line Strand station was closed to allow construction of Jubilee line platforms. These platforms were constructed between the Bakerloo line and Northern line platforms together with the long-missing below-ground interchange between those two lines. In anticipation of the new interchange station, Charing Cross (this station) was renamed Charing Cross Embankment. The Jubilee line platforms and the refurbished Northern line platforms opened in May 1979, when the combined station (including Trafalgar Square on the Bakerloo line) was given its current name of Charing Cross; simultaneously, Charing Cross Embankment (this station) reverted to its original name – Embankment.
(Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Historical Map: Tyne and Wear Metro, 1981
A beautiful early map for this system, clearly showing how much of it was planned from the start. Apart from a few name changes (the proposed “Old Fold” station became Gateshead Stadium, for example), this is recognisably the same map that existed as far into the future as the year 2000, when the proposed extension to Sunderland made its appearance.
The outlined route lines to show proposed/future extensions work wonderfully well, making an excellent contrast to the existing coloured routes. The approach is even carried through to outlining the names of the proposed stations — a lovely and deft design touch.
Another interesting feature is how small and low in the visual hierarchy the ferry across the River Tyne is: in later maps, the ferry symbol has become very large and overpowering.
Our rating: The original and the best. Simple, stylish, uncluttered design that sets out a clear vision for the future. Four stars.
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 Map: The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, 1956
A simply gorgeous mid-1950s map of the AT&SF’s passenger routes, taken from a promotional brochure produced in conjunction with Disneyland, which is shown prominently to the right of the map.
The brochure was ostensibly an introduction to the Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad at Disneyland, then only a year old. Understandably, the AT&SF — who had basically bankrolled construction of the 5/8th scale railroad — were keen to get some return in their investment. As a result, much of the brochure is actually given over to advertising their “new and modern” rail services.
The whole brochure opens out to display this fantastic map, where Texas and Oklahoma are represented by scratchily drawn cattle, oil derricks and chemical plants, while the Grand Canyon becomes a large hole in the ground that a careless Native American is about to walk into. On top of these charming little drawings is a simplified route map of the AT&SF’s lines, stretching from San Francisco to Chicago.
Our rating: Gorgeous 1950s design sensibilities, although definitely more an advertisement than a practical, useful map. Four stars.
(Source: Vintage Disneyland Tickets website)
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: Interactive Moscow Metro Map, c. 1968
Sent in by long-time Transit Maps reader and contributor, @dars_dm, here’s a great old photo of an interactive map kiosk in the Moscow Metro. Push a button, and your route lights up! Apparently, these displays were common at many Metro stations through the early 1970s. Highly reminiscent of the Paris Metro’s plan indicateur lumineux d’itinéraires (or PILI), an example of which I featured previously.
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)
Historical Map: New York IRT Sytem Baseball Season Opening Map, 1923
A simple little map from “The Elevated Express” gazette showing the convenience of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company’s services to “all three parks” — Ebbets Field (Brooklyn Dodgers), Polo Grounds (New York Giants) and Yankee Stadium (New York Yankees).
The last stadium is of particular interest as this is the year that it opened — the first game at Yankee Stadium was held April 18th, 1923 against the Boston Red Sox. According to the New York Evening Telegram, “everything smelled of … fresh paint, fresh plaster and fresh grass.”
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!
Historical Map: Boston Rapid Transit Map in Type 6 Mock-up Carriage, c. 1968
Here’s a variant Boston MBTA map I’ve never seen before: a version with 60-degree angled lines, instead of 45 degrees. Apart from that, it looks very much like the standard late-1960s/early 1970s Cambridge 7 spider map, although there’s some weird inconsistencies like the Green Line “A” Watertown branch (closed 1968) and Quincy Center (opened 1971) on the same map.
Here’s the interesting part. This map lives in the one and only mock-up of an MBTA “Type 6” train carriage at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine. This wooden mock-up was created in 1968 by MBTA engineers to allow stakeholders and the public to judge the design’s layout and comfort, but the carriage was eventually deemed too expensive to produce. The MBTA ended up procuring the (incredibly unreliable) Boeing-Vertol LRTs instead. So… this map may actually be as unique as the mock-up that houses it: the only one of its kind. If anyone knows anything more about this variant, I’d love to hear about it!