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: Isometric S-Bahn Map, Stuttgart, 2007
After all this time running this blog, only now do I find out that the incredible isometric Stuttgart U- and S-Bahn map (October 2011, 5 stars) has an S-Bahn-only sibling?
If anything, this is actually even better than that map: fewer route lines leads to more graphical simplicity. Like that map, however, it’s since been replaced with something disappointingly normal.
Official Map: Israel Railways Passenger Services, 2013
Originally sent to me as a photo by long-time reader and contributor, Sam Gold, I thought this map was interesting enough for a full review. It shows all the passenger rail services in Israel, which are divided into nine operational routes, plus a night route than runs the length of the main north-south trunk line.
Have we been there? No.
What we like: Clear coding of the routes in attractive colours. The night service is handled deftly, with a distinct visual difference between it and the regular routes. The bilingual labeling is mostly nicely done, although a couple of stations at the southern end of the “Red Line” have their Roman script left-aligned when right-aligned would be more appropriate.
What we don’t like: The whole map feels a little disjointed to me. In a diagrammatic map like this, the main north-south trunk line from Nahariyya to Be’er Sheva really could be turned into a straight line — a strong visual axis that underpins everything else. Instead, it weaves uncertainly all over the place, leading to some awkward spacing between route lines and other elements
Stations that are recommended as interchanges have a bar linking all the lines, while other stations that serve multiple lines just have unconnected dots. I’d prefer to see them linked with a thin black line, just so it’s obvious that all the dots collectively belong to one station.
Although this is a diagrammatic map, the scale of some elements is very odd. Stations in Tel Aviv, which have to span across seven lines (plus the night line at Savidor Center), seem to take up half the width of the country, while the “Brown Line” from Be’er Sheva - North to Dimona — which is actually a 40-kilometre (25 mile) journey, appears to be a tiny shuttle trip, as its route line is only just longer than the distance shown between Be’er Sheva - North and Be’er Sheva - Central: a real-life distance of just over a kilometre!
Our rating: Serviceable enough, but visually, a whole lot more could be made of the main north-south trunk. Two stars.
(Source: Official Israel Railways website)
Official Map: Opolskie Voivodeship Railway Network, Poland
The whole map is a bit of a mess, with all sorts of random angles everywhere (both route lines and station labels), but what really takes this map into the land of the bizarre are the big photos of trains superimposed over it. It’s like someone said, “Hey, there’s a bit of white space left over — what can we fill it up with? I know! How about some shots of our trains, and we’ll rotate them so it looks like they’re travelling along the tracks? That’s a great idea!”
NOT. One-and-a-half stars.
All Aboard the Orient Express!
Here’s an absolutely charming little map found on the inside of a French model train set box lid. I don’t have a definitive date for this, but it does have a lovely retro feel to it.
The map itself isn’t much help, as it’s pretty much a work of fiction: a weird combination of different parts of the Orient Express’s historical routes (see this diagram on Wikipedia) and a branch to Warsaw via Prague that was never part of the train’s itinerary.
Maybe, as simple artwork intended for a children’s toy, the designers were simply thinking that no one would notice any inaccuracies. Looks great, though!
(Source: japanese forms/Flickr)
Submission — Unofficial Historical Map: Los Angeles Pacific Electric Railway Diagram, 1917
Drawn and submitted by Sam Huddy, who says:
Pacific Electric: Challenge Accepted!
When I read your disappointment on the uselessness of that beautiful map of the Pacific Electric at its peak in 1917 (not 1920), I wondered if it was possible to create a simplified London Underground-style map. With over a hundred routes it seemed impossible, but after several attempts, this was my end result. Any further information is on the map itself.
Transit Maps says:
Basically, this is incredible. An absolute model of simplicity and clarity of information, and it’s all drawn by hand onto some graph paper!
Breaking the multitude of routes up simply by their final downtown destination — either 6th and Main or 4th and Hill — works very well, and the “local services” insets are perfect for a map of this colossal scale: local route information can be easily found by those who need it, but those routes don’t clog the main map up with tiny detail, either. Perhaps the location of the inset boxes could be called out on the main map to aid those unfamiliar with the area, but that’s a very minor quibble.
As an added bonus, Sam has even dated the original map more precisely than any other source that I’ve seen. “Circa 1920” is now definitively dated to 1917, because his research found that some of the shuttle lines shown on this map and the original were abandoned after then.
Our rating: I feel like I could take this sketch and turn it into final computer-generated artwork in less than a day, it’s that good. Astounding work! Four-and-a-half stars!
(Source: Sam Huddy — Check the map out BIG on Flickr to see all the details!)
Keio Railway Map Bath Towel
Submitted by Jeffery Bridgman, who says:
A bath towel with the different services (different types of local/express trains) that run on the Keio lines in Tokyo. Hilarious!
Transit Maps says:
Oh, those crazy Japanese! Still, one can’t help but think that Douglas Adams — whose 61st birthday would have been two days ago — would have approved. Because, after all, a towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have. Especially one with a railway map on it.
Official Maps: In-Car Strip Maps for Loop or Circle Lines
An anonymous follower asks: “Do you have any examples of a line map for a loop/circle line? I’m curious as to how those are implemented.”
Transit Maps says:
Generally, a strip map for a loop or circle line follows much the same principles as a usual one, although the available space may have to be used a little more creatively in order to fit things in. Above are a few interesting examples.
London’s Circle Line: With recent additions, this line is no longer a true loop — for which the travelling public is sincerely thankful, as any problems on the Circle used to impact the District and Hammersmith & City lines terribly, throwing much of the Underground into chaos. From the picture above, it can be seen that the Circle Line’s strip map utilises a much deeper space above the doors than many Underground strip maps do. Often, they run in a single, shallow line above the windows of the carriage. The other lines that share track with the Circle Line are also shown, but not lines that cross it: these are shown as standard interchanges instead.
Chicago’s Orange Line: This line runs around Chicago’s central Loop and returns back the way it came. The map handles things in a pretty straightforward way, although, interestingly, the thickness of the route line halves while it’s going around the loop. The direction of travel around the loop is clearly indicated with arrows.
Tokyo’s Yamanote Line: Of course, the Japanese use technology to display information about their famous circle line! Each car on the Yamanote Line has LCD displays that indicate the current station (the red box), as well as the estimated time to the next few stations. The display alternates between Japanese and English information.
Glasgow Subway: Well, the whole subway is a loop — earning the system the nickname “The Clockwork Orange” — so all their maps look like this. Despite the inner and outer loops travelling in opposite directions, this map neglects to point out which one goes where!
Hand Drawn-Map of Japanese Rail System by Wyton Chu
Okay, this is nothing short of amazing.
Drawing a complex transit system map is hard enough, even with computers and the precise drawing/drafting tools they offer. To draw something like this by hand and have it look so clean and accurate beggars belief. Love love love.
Click through to view a whole set of images of this remarkable piece on Flickr.
Unofficial Map: San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit, 2011
This post comes about because of a Tumblr Mail (go, on ask me something!) from an anonymous follower, who says:
“Any idea if a unified San Francisco transit map exists somewhere out there, perhaps a la the Portland one? SF has to have one of the more confusing transit systems in the country, what with Caltrain + BART + Muni + cable cars + the F line.”
As it happens, there are plenty of unofficial maps showing both just the City of San Francisco and the greater Bay Area.
This one, from sfcityscape.com, is definitely one of the best. It shows BART, Muni Metro, the F line, Caltrain, and more. The only rail transit it doesn’t show are the historic cable cars (which surely don’t qualify as rapid transit, anyway) and interstate Amtrak trains, preferring to focus on the Amtrak California Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin services.
Extra handy features include an indication of stations with timed transfers between services and an awesome little diagram of how BART services change quite radically depending on the day of the week.
Technically, the map is extremely well drawn - there’s a lovely clean minimalism to the linework and the colour palette is gorgeous, especially in the background areas.
My one minor complaint is that the colours used to denote Muni Metro and Caltrain are very similar to each other. While the relative thicknesses of their service lines help distinguish them from each other, the services do touch and overlap in a couple of places. This problem seems like it could have been easily solved with a little more thought, but still barely detracts from the sheer quality of this piece.
Our rating: One of my favourite unofficial maps. Four-and-a-half stars.
(Source: SF Cityscape - PDF)