Historical Map: Montreal Metro Map, July 1979

From the days before the current colour-coding of the lines and the now-iconic black background. Here, we have dark blue (or black: it’s hard to tell from this picture) instead of green for Line 1, and red instead of orange for Line 2. Line 4 retains its yellow color, and the three colours combined also form part of the Metro’s branding at the base of the map.

The map itself is fairly blocky and primitive, and the stairstepping effect on Line 1 in the eastern portion of the map creates some problems with label placement. The shoreline is strangely detailed in comparison with the rest of the map. 

The enormous “no smoking” icon is much larger than the agency logo, and apparently, way too many people interfere with the doors.

Our rating: An interesting look at the early days of Montreal’s map, although it’s not very memorable in itself. Two stars.

2 Stars

Source: transit103/Flickr

Submission - Historical Map: Greater London British Rail Map, 1969

Submitted by Peter Marshall, who says:

I’m currently trying to design a clearer diagrammatic representation of the maddening tangle of railway lines and services in the South London area. Just doing my initial research into historical versions online, I turned up this interesting map.  It appears to have been published in 1969 by British Rail, for what purpose, I am not absolutely certain.  It seems far too sparse in detail to be a map intended for use by the general public, as it gives so little information about lines and services, however it appears to have been published alongside a timetable.

I think it’s interesting mainly because the first thing I imagine anyone planning to map the railways around London doing is completely abandoning topography, however, topography plays such an important part of this map. The use of the BR typeface and stripped down use of only 3 shades (background, river and line) of the same BR red is beautiful in its simplicity. The strange angularity of the river seems to serve to instruct the user that this is a diagram using topography as its basic principle, but prepared to deviate from it as necessary, such as in the exaggerated separation of Lewisham from the Lewisham bypassing curves, or the large junctions at Selhurst and Streatham.

Perhaps I’m over-familiar with the region and therefore find it easier to use than an ordinary member of the public, but I think this is a really interesting approach.


Transit Maps says:

I think Peter has inadvertently provided the answer to his own question when he says that this map was published along with the British Rail timetable book. This is what I like to call a “boast map” — it serves no other purpose than to say, "Look how large and extensive our network is! Why, you can get just about anywhere on British Rail!"

Of course, to work out how you can actually get there from here, you have to consult the timetables in the accompanying book, or go and talk to a British Rail booking agent.

The map itself serves its purpose well and is another great example of how to make a compelling map with a limited colour palette. The major London terminals are nicely emphasised, and the restrained London Underground roundels to indicate stations with Tube interchanges are rather wonderful.

BR certainly used diagrammatic maps of their Greater London network at the time for use by the general public, as this superb poster from 1965 shows.

Source: Joyce’s World of Transport Eclectica

Submission - Historical Map: Chicago CTA Rapid Transit Map, 1983

Submitted by our resident repository of Chicago transit map knowledge, Dennis McClendon, who says:

This map of Chicago’s rapid transit network originated in the 1970s (this one is from June 1983), and this style was used until routes received color names in 1993. Happily, by that time digital printing in fiberglass-embedded signs made full-color maps easier to place in graffiti-prone environments.

These maps were silk-screened onto [blue] color blanks, and every color of ink added cost. So the CTA’s six lines are represented by using only two colors. Simple black is used for three “extension” lines that never overlap. A simple white line is used for the north-south line those connect with. For the two other through routes: black with white casing and white with black casing.

The side ticks for stations work fine, but a box for the places where transfers are possible is not altogether intuitive.  The CTA of that era employed skip-stop spacing, so alternate trains stopped at A or B stations only. Another graphic decision that might have deserved more thought:  the names of various suburbs—only a few of which can be reached by rapid transit—floating in their vague geographic positions, but no indication of Chicago city limits or Lake Michigan.


Transit Maps says:

I have to say that I actually really like the forced graphic simplicity of this map. There’s only two colours to work with, so every element has to be very carefully considered and balanced against others for the map to work at all. That it manages to keep the route lines recognisable and separated in the downtown Loop area without the use of an inset map is quite an achievement.

The famous “A-B” stopping patterns are shown pretty deftly as well, being mostly placed on the opposite side of the route line from the station name. The few stations where this doesn’t happen (due to crowding or space limitations) stand out like a sore thumb – Jarvis on the North-South line, and many of the stations on the Ravenswood line. There are also two stations with their labels set at an angle: Merchandise Mart is almost completely unavoidable, but Harvard on the Englewood Line could easily have been fitted in horizontally.

I think the “boxed” interchanges work well enough, having seen similar devices on quite a few maps (the Paris Metro included) now. I also like the extra detail included on the map: station closures on weekends and nights, direction of travel around the Loop, inbound boarding only on the last three stations on the Jackson Park North-South Line, and more.

I would agree with Dennis on the locality names, that just seem to float in space. The biggest offender is “Evergreen Park”, right at the very bottom of the map, below the legend!

As for depicting Lake Michigan, that seems like a good idea, but I struggle to think of a way of doing it without upsetting the delicate balance of the map. You can’t really use a white line, as that could be confused with all the white route lines, and you can’t have a large white area as that would be visually way too heavy. In the end, the lake isn’t that important for such a graphically stylised map (it really just delineates the eastern side of the map), so I’m not too upset by its absence.

Our rating: A fine historical example of how to use a limited colour palette effectively. Minimalist but still effective. Three-and-a-half stars.

3.5 Stars

  1. Camera: Olympus C8080WZ
  2. Aperture: f/2.8
  3. Exposure: 1/10th
  4. Focal Length: 16mm

1914 Hoch und Untergrundbahn Map, Sophie-Charlotte-Platz, Berlin

One of 26 panels on the walls of the platforms of this U-Bahn station that show the history of the subway before the First World War.

Source: bentchristensen14/Flickr

Submission – Historical Map: Proposed Underground Mass Transit, Jakarta, Indonesia, c. 1993

Submitted by Josh Brandt, who says:

I used to work at a university, and one day while poking through some dumpsters I found a big hardbound book full of architectural drawings and tables and things, a final report on developing a mass transit system for Jakarta. 

I don’t know if that sort of thing interests you, but here are some pictures of pages from it.

They planned for 2 lines, NS and EW, and mapped them out in detail— I only have pictures of 2 of the street plans since about 2/3 of the book is made up of drawings of the streets with the proposed rail lines overlaid. They came up with 3 or 4 potential plans, including one full-underground line and a couple of mixed underground and elevated rail lines. They also sketched out a couple of stations.

I haven’t gone through and compared in detail to what they’re building now, but it looks pretty similar at a quick glance


Transit Maps says:

What an amazing find, Josh! This is a real old-school proposal document, with beautiful hand-drawn architectural renderings and plans. I’ll note here that one of the proposing companies is Parsons Brinckerhoff, the firm that I work for as a senior graphic designer – essentially producing the same type of proposal documents, but with the benefit of modern computer software and technology.

Josh has posted a great set on Flickr of pages from the proposal, but I’ve posted one of my favourites here: a plan view of what looks like the north-eastern quadrant of the two-line system, including landmarks and other proposed works along the way. The linework is simply beautiful, and I wish more proposals had hand-drawn maps in them these days.

By the way, the 1993 date comes solely from the artist’s signature on some of the other drawings, which are dated March 1993. More than 20 years later, construction on the Jakarta MRT has only just started… 

Our rating: Super yummy old style architectural renderings and maps make me happy. Four stars!

4 Stars!

Source: solipsistnation/Flickr

Submission - Historical Map: Bus and Trolley-bus Routes in Vilnius, Lithuania, 1968

Submitted by creatures-alive.

A striking transit network map from Soviet Vilnius in the late 1960s. The stark, angular route lines are softened a bit by the wide lazy curves of the city’s rivers, but this is still pretty severe, minimalist, almost abstract design. Also of note is the map’s title and legend, set in five different languages — Lithuanian, Russian, Polish, German and English.

Source: Vilniaus Katalogas website

Historical Map: Chapel Hill Transit Bus Map, 1974

Celebrating their 40th year of service today — August 1, 2014. Here’s their original service map showing eight routes: four city buses (solid lines), two UNC Campus buses (long dashed lines) and two Park/Ride express services to the airport lot and the mall lot (short dashes). The use of the different dashes allow the different types of services to be shown effectively with a limited (and cheap to print!) two-colour palette. There’s also some very fashionable — for 1974 — Eurostile typesetting as well.

Source: CHT Director Brian M Litchfield’s Twitter account

Historical Map: Pocket Diary with London Tube Map, 1948

A lovely little black and white version of the Tube map at the front of a 1948 year diary. Drawn by H.C. Beck (see his name at the bottom left), it shows the central area of London only and is based off the 1946 version of the full map. By 1949, interchanges were being drawn with a white connector line between adjacent circles, rather than the separate circles seen here.

Source: hollandfamilyarchives/Flickr

Historical Map: Unpublished Proof of H.C. Beck’s London Underground Diagram, 1932

A printer’s proof of the first card folder (pocket) edition of Beck’s famous diagram, with edits and corrections marked in his own hand.

Of note is the use of quite ugly and overpowering “blobs” instead of the now-ubiquitous “ticks” for station markers, and the fact that the map has been entirely hand-lettered by Beck, using what he called “Johnston-style” characters. He’s cheated quite a bit with his letterforms and spacing on some of the longer station names.

The Piccadilly line is also shown in what seems to us a very odd light blue, although Beck was simply following established colour conventions from earlier geographical maps. The now-familiar dark blue was in place by the time the diagram was officially released in January of 1933.

Source: Scanned from my personal copy of “Mr. Beck’s Underground Map" by Ken Garland

  1. Camera: CanoScan LiDE 600F

Replica 1958 Transit Map at the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum, Japan

 No seriously: a museum devoted to ramen (in all honesty, it actually sounds pretty awesome). This map is found on the main floor of the museum, where nine restaurants serve different styles of ramen from Japan and around the world in a faithfully recreated Japanese streetscape from 1958 — the year that instant ramen was invented.

As to which transit system it represents, I can’t even begin to guess. The original post on Flickr posits Tokyo, but the museum is closer to Yokohama… But I’m pretty sure that one of you will be able to help out and translate/locate for me.

EDIT: And… that took all of 10 minutes to work out. Thanks to psylin for translating and finding out that the red station is “Narutobashi”, a fictional station and area that the replica streetscape represents. 

However, I am almost certain that the numbers in the station dots represent the fare from the red "You Are Here" dot.

Source: chimpsonfilm/Flickr