Historical Map: Abandoned Bus Station, Pripyat, Ukraine
A harrowing image from the Ukrainian city of Pripyat, built in the 1970s to house workers for the ill-fated Chernobyl nuclear plant. Pripyat lies just a few scant kilometres from the plant, and was permanently evacuated within two days of the disaster in 1986.
Within the ruins of the city’s bus station is this surprisingly intact map of services offered within the local region. Pripyat is the fourth station from the top along the right edge of the map, just above the horizontal line that runs through the map. The town of Chernobyl (which is further from the plant than Pripyat) is the next stop to the south along the red route line.
(Source: Matt. Create. (Roads Less Traveled)/Flickr)
Historical Map: The City of Los Angeles Showing Railway Systems, 1906
Another amazing old map from the awesome Big Map Blog, showing the already-booming rail transit network that was found in Los Angeles in the early days of the 20th Century. Electric trolleys first ran in LA in 1877, but the “Red Cars” of the Pacific Electric and the “Yellow Cars” of the narrow-gauge Los Angeles Railway had only appeared a mere five years before this map was produced. Their lines are represented on the map in appropriate colours, along with those of other, less-remembered, railway companies.
Technically, the map is beautifully drawn, although there’s some strange issues with route lines extending past the visible area of the map and spilling over the lists of street names, the map’s legend and even completely bleeding off the edge of the page (see the detail view of the legend above for an example). It could be intentionally done, but it certainly looks a little messy.
From a production viewpoint, it seems as though the map was printed with five different inks: black for the street name legend and Los Angeles Pacific RR routes, yellow for the Los Angeles RR, red for the Pacific Electric, green for the Los Angeles Inter-Urban RR, and a dark blue for the Los Angeles & Redondo RR and the underlying linework of the map itself. Understandably, given the fairly primitive printing technology of the day, the registration of these colours is a little bit off in places.
Our rating: A beautiful look at the early days of mass transit in LA. Four stars!
(Source: the Big Map Blog)
Historical Map: London Connections, 1988
The reverse side of the British Rail Network SouthEast map, showing the detailed view of the area surrounding London. While this map is designed in a very similar style (at the same time, by the same people) to the regional map, I feel it’s slightly less successful for a few reasons.
The inclusion of the London Underground introduces many more colors to the map, which instantly makes it feel much busier. After using all these familiar and well-established colours for the Underground, there really aren’t many colours left to use for the main line/Network SouthEast routes. So they get saddled with orange, a very vivid, powerful colour that visually dominates the map, especially south of the Thames.
Interestingly, the London Overground — a service which has largely been formed from parts of these old main line routes — also uses orange as its route colour: is this map the origin of that designation?
Other points of interest: The Docklands Light Railway, opened the previous year, is shown but has not yet acquired its distinctive teal route colour. The Waterloo & City Line (a very short line between Waterloo and Bank stations) is still part of British Rail, not the Underground.
See also this British Rail map from 1965 (May 2012, 4.5 stars) that covers a very similar area but omits the Underground.
Our rating: A fine piece of work that skillfully incorporates a lot of information, but not as excellent as its sibling. Three stars.
Historical Fantasy Map: St. Paul in the Year 1900 (Map c. 1871)
Definitely one of the stranger maps I’ve seen, and obviously meant to be read in a satirical light. It shows the city of St. Paul, Minnesota as an enormous METROPOLIS with Roman Road-straight railroad connections to all points (except to the “village” of New York, which is served by a “tri-weekly horse railroad”), a tunnel to “Peek-in” and a “railroad-balloonic route” to the North Pole and thence to the Moon. From America’s east coast, a gargantuan suspension bridge implausibly crosses the Atlantic to London — double-tracked the whole way, at that.
The explanatory text is quite hilarious at times. “Duluth,” it states, “is to be wiped out entirely, as it deserves for having the temerity to exist” while “Chicago is to be a signal station on the horse railroad to New York, which is deemed to be all the conveniences required for those insignificant villages.”
The text even pokes fun at the absurdity of the map itself, noting that “It may strike a stranger that some of these parallel roads [railway lines] may have a hard time of it to earn dividends, particularly as they have no way stations”.
Wonderfully immersive visual history of transit in San Francisco. As the blurb on the site says:
The history of San Francisco’s transit system can be traced back as far as 1873, when the first cable car began service. Tales of technological advances, natural disasters, political struggles, and triumphant celebrations color its 140-year history and shape it into a system today that’s uniquely diverse and uniquely San Francisco.
Definitely worth losing a few hours to!
Historical Map: British Rail Network SouthEast, 1988
Network SouthEast was an operating division of British Rail that was formed in 1982 (although it was known as London & South Eastern until 1986). It was responsible for inter-city and commuter rail for the densely-populated south east of England, including London. Of course, beginning in 1994, Network SouthEast was privatised along with the rest of British Rail, leading to the convoluted network of private rail companies we see today.
But what we have here is a very handsome network map, which obviously owes a great deal to the London Underground map, but has enough of its own identity to stand alone. This is mainly achieved by the removal of the Underground’s distinctive Johnston Sans typeface, replaced with what looks like a condensed Helvetica or similar Gothic face.
The map is broken down into six regions, which are cleverly shown by only using three repeating colours (red, blue and grey): this prevents the map from looking too rainbow-like and gives it a more corporate feeling. A fourth colour — orange — is used to show the brand-new ThamesLink service running north-south through London.
The London region itself only shows main terminals and connecting stations: a more detailed map of this area is shown on the reverse of this map: this keeps the map clean and uncluttered.
About the only real problem I have with this map is the colour of the water, which is almost exactly the same as the blue type that is used to denote connecting ferry services and ports. For example, there’s a ferry to France from Newhaven Harbour, but it’s very difficult to make that out.
Our rating: An excellent example of mid-1980s map design (remember: this is still before computers entered the design field, so a map of this complexity was quite an undertaking). Four stars.
Historical Map: Railways in Cornwall, 1936
An absolutely gorgeous hand-drawn map from a “Little Guide” to Cornwall published by Methuen in 1936. Drawn by B.C. Boulter, who also illustrated the guide book.
Historical Map: TTC Subway Route Map, c.1975–1977
While we’re on the subject of the Toronto Subway map, here’s a beautiful version from the mid-1970s. This particular map is in a preserved subway carriage at the Halton County Radial Railway museum, and shows the subway as it was before the Spadina extension was opened in 1978.
This is actually probably my favourite version of this system’s map: it has nice horizontal station labels alternating to either side of the route lines (although Finch station strangely breaks the pattern at the very top of the map), lovely even spacing between all the stations, and a very elegant curve at the eastern end of the Bloor-Danforth route. The interchange symbol is rather nice, too: a square within a circle that draws attention to it very well indeed.
I’d steal this map to put on my wall over the modern version any day.
Compare also to this map from 1966, when the Bloor-Danforth line first opened.
Historical Map: Old M1 Signage, Bucharest Metro, Romania, c. 1989
The Gara de Nord to Dristor 2 section of the M1 line opened in 1989, and this signage certainly looks like it’s from that era. The design is pretty rough and ready, looking almost like the sign makers made it up as they went along, but it does have a certain brutalist charm about it.
Of particular interest are the two patches at each end of the map that keep this old map somewhat up to date: “Preciziei” at the left end covers up the previous station name of “Industriilor”, which was changed in 2009, while “Anghel Saligny” has been added to the right side to reflect the new M3 terminus that opened in 2008.
(Source: Marcus Wong from Geelong/Flickr)
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.