Video: Making of a London Underground String Map
Feeling creative? Why not make a string art replica of your favourite subway system as shown in this awesome video? The pro tip is definitely the taping down of the actual map before putting in the nails for guaranteed fidelity to the real thing.
(Source: fsm vpggru/Vimeo)
Unofficial Map: Circular Tube Map by Maxwell Roberts
Apparently, circular Tube Maps are like London buses — none come forever, then two arrive at the same time.
This one is by Maxwell Roberts, an expert on the London Underground map if there ever was one. He’s personally redrawn multiple, multiple versions of the map in just about every possible configuration, just to see what works and what doesn’t. Many are featured in his excellent book, Underground Maps Unravelled, which I promise I’ll review properly one day.
Wisely, Roberts has confined his map to the traditional view of Greater London itself, with trains headed to distant places given an arrow pointer towards that destination.
Interestingly, most of his route lines radiate out from a central point, but some run parallel to other routes instead. This makes the design less rigid to a design ideal, but also upsets the visual flow of the diagram in a couple of places — I find the parallel Bakerloo and Metropolitan Lines in the northwest part of the map quite jarring.
Roberts’ interchange stations are much tighter than Fisher’s, looking far more like “traditional” Tube Map markers, but some are still very convoluted in making their connections between lines, such as at Farringdon/Barbican.
The London Underground logo “hidden” in the Circle Line is a bit of a gimmicky design affectation, although it actually works surprisingly well in the context of the diagram.
Overall, I think this version is more successful than Jonny Fisher’s, although I still don’t really see it as a viable alternative to the current official map. Neither does Mr. Roberts, who says, “Overall though, I don’t think I will be sending this one to TfL for comments. No great advances in usability here, but it was fun to make it.” Three-and-a-half stars.
(Source: Going Underground blog — click through for more detailed analysis from Maxwell Roberts himself)
Unofficial Map: “Orbital” London Underground Map by Jonny Fisher
Here’s an interesting new look at the London Underground from architect/designer/writer Jonny Fisher. It’s always fun when someone reinterprets something as well known as this: every designer approaches the same problem differently. For me, this map isn’t wholly successful, but it’s definitely thought-provoking.
Have we been there? Yes.
What we like: A bold attempt at a redesign of possibly the most well-known transit map of all. The “orbital” theme actually makes a lot of sense: London already has a Circle Line, and the Overground does form a looser larger circle around that. As a map designer myself, I can certainly appreciate the skill and effort that’s gone into making this look as coherent and attractive as it does.
What we don’t like: Station labels set in all lower case text… ugh!
Inclusion of far-distant Thameslink stations like Brighton, Peterborough and Kings Lynn (97 miles from London and — from my understanding — no certainty to be a part of the final Thameslink Programme) is faintly ridiculous and leads to some awful crowding of station names in the north eastern quadrant of the map. Inclusion of the Tramlink services in southern London may have been more warranted, and would have helped with the “orbital” theme of the map.
Lack of differentiation betwen the different types of service shown, even in the legend, which opts for a pretty “rainbow” of route lines instead. The colours may be in order, but the types of services are all mixed up. As the Underground operates at far greater frequencies that the mainline and rail services, this is an important distinction to make.
Some of the bigger interchange stations are now inordinately large: it looks as if you have to traverse across large parts of London to change from the Circle Line to the Victoria Line at Kings Cross/St. Pancras, for example.
I miss the Thames.
Our rating: Interesting new look at something familiar, if flawed. Two-and-a-half stars.
Vintage “Punch” Magazine Tube Map Cartoon
Lovely little Edwardian piece of whimsy to welcome the weekend.
(Source: Annie Mole/Flickr)
London Underground Map Tin in the Doctor Who Christmas Special, “The Snowmen”
It’s not very often I get to combine two of my absolute favourite things in one post: Doctor Who and transit maps! Without giving too much away (spoilers, sweetie!), the tin is presented in-story as being from 1967, and it looks like the BBC props department did a pretty decent job. The map shown on the tin is indeed Paul Garbutt’s 1964 map, which can be differentiated from the very similar 1970 map — even on-screen like this — because of the enlarged “U” and “D” in the “UNDERGROUND” roundel. By 1970, all letters in the logo were the same height.
There is actually a very clever point to the exact dating of the tin to 1967, but again… spoilers!
London’s iconic tube map is transformed into a pit-stop journey through classic styles of storytelling, with the individual tube lines turned into genres and sub genres of literature. The depths of the Northern Line are made over into the aptly named Horror Line. The Bakerloo Line coursing past Sherlock Holmes’s Baker Street becomes, of course, the Crime & Mystery Line. And the pink trajectory of the Hammersmith & City is converted to the Romance Line. Each Storyline features a range of illustrations bringing to life both classics and mavericks from that theme, with a genre-defining work lurking at each journey’s end. Stations falling on intersecting Storylines get a sub-genre cross over. Many many days and weeks were spent researching and crafting this piece.
Normally, I’m not a huge fan of the whole “let’s use a well known transit map and replace the station names with something else” thing, but I’m going to make an exception for this stunning poster by artist Anna Burles. This is beautifully done, and — for once — the interchanges between the genre/route lines have actually been thought about properly.
A collection of underground maps… Rad. All maps via DailyMail
Great set of maps, including a couple I haven’t seen before (from 1919 - shown above - and 1926). However, the “article” that accompanies them is possibly the worst piece of writing I have ever seen from a recognised national newspaper. Is this what journalism has come to?
Unofficial Map: A Series of Twin Tubes - A Track Diagram of London
After my previous post about this old track layout diagram from Berlin, reader Rolando Peñate brought this awesome project to my attention - a beautiful track layout diagram of the London Underground, DLR and Overground, complete with platform layouts, disused platforms, yards and sidings. What’s really amazing about this diagram, however, is that its creator, Andrew Godwin, has essentially automated its production. He explains on his website:
The map is created with an automated tool which takes a textual description of the lines and platforms (as a series of points), and which then automatically draws the lines, station names and labels, saving the tedious process of moving lots of lines around and ensuring all the angles and curves match. Placement of the stations and waypoints is done with a custom GUI tool which draws the map in realtime, as we found that it took too long to edit coordinates in the text file, create the image, and then look for problems.
As a graphic designer who spends way too long tweaking maps to get them looking just right, I’m both astounded and dismayed by this. Amazed that such tools can be written to produce a map this aesthetically appealing, and dismayed in that I may soon be redundant to the process!
Have we been there? Yes, and looking at the track layout around Earls Court brings back memories of waiting there for District Line trains to East Putney.
What we like: Beautiful-looking map full of intricate details and information. Here, in all its glory is the Northern Line junctions between Euston and Camden Town that frustrated Harry Beck so much (take a look at how many different ways that section of track has been rendered over the years), and countless other details.
What we don’t like: Nothing… this map is incredible, and I love it to bits! You might quibble that there are some omissions on the Overground lines, but that would be churlish.
Our rating: Mind-blowing. Five stars!
(Source: Andrew Godwin’s Aeracode website)
(Source: Hip Dramatic/Flickr)