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.
Amtrak On-Time Performance by Route
A neat little map/infographic accompanying an interesting article in the Washington Post about Amtrak’s inability to actually get people places on-time. Well, that’s what happens when you don’t own most of your track and freight trains get priority… but I digress.
The map does a good job at presenting the information in an interesting manner: the use of green to differentiate between “vaguely acceptable performance” and the varying shades of “are we ever going to get there?” purple is particularly nice.
However, the map does show one of the pitfalls of placing diagrammatic route lines onto a geographical background. The western terminus of the Missouri River Runner is shown correctly as Kansas City, MO, which the Southwest Chief also runs through. However, the 45-degree angle imposed on the Southwest Chief as it leaves Chicago means that it misses Kansas City by a considerable distance (by roughly half the state of Missouri, actually!). Whoops!
I’d also argue that the Texas Eagle should really only be shown from Chicago to San Antonio, as the Los Angeles section is really provided via a connection to the Sunset Limited at San Antonio (as shown on my own subway map-style poster of Amtrak routes).
Historical Map: Sydney Rail Network, Early 1980s
The latest this can be from is 1984, as Abbatoirs station closed in November of that year. I remember versions of this above the seats on the old “red rattlers" as I travelled from Epping to Petersham for school in 1985, so they were still around after their "use by" date.
In a way, this is actually one of my favourite versions of the Sydney rail map, as it has a pleasingly compact shape that more modern versions lack. If there’s one failing with the layout, it’s the huge amounts of extra space between stations on the Western Line past Doonside: far more than anywhere else on the map.
The other weird part of the map is the visual implication that all routes can call at all stations between Burwood and Central, which simply isn’t true and never has been. At the time, I believe that “all stations” service was only provided by the Bankstown Line, with some Southern Line trains also calling at Ashfield.
However, the Bankstown Line – represented by a neat, simple loop – has never looked better, and the triangle formed by the two routes of the green Southern Line (via Regent’s Park or via Granville) also looks great.
Also of interest is the way that the City Circle is simplified down to its own route designation, rather than attempting to show how all the separate routes loop around it and head back out to the suburbs, as more recent maps do. In a way, this reflects the hub-and-spoke nature of the network and the way that the vast majority of people used it: to get from their home to the city and back again. Trains were announced simply as “To Central and the City Circle”, and it was only if you were catching a train from the City Circle back out again that you needed to know the outwards destination. No one rides the train around the whole city loop: in fact, if you know what you’re doing, you get off at Town Hall and walk to a destination near Museum station, as it’s much quicker than riding around the circle via Circular Quay.
Less useful is the separate designation of the Eastern Suburbs line, as it’s always been operationally tied to the blue Illawarra Line.
Our rating: At last, an old map of Sydney that lives up to my nostalgic memories. Three-and-a-half stars
Illustration: Southern Rail’s “Southern Adventure” Ad Campaign by Rod Hunt
Extremely nifty isometric “pixel art” illustration showing all the family-friendly adventures that can be had on England’s Southern Rail network. Probably not much use as an actual map, but it does name/highlight a lot of the useful stations and the activities that can be had in the region. A lot of fun to be had poring over the detailed illustration, and I love the pencilled rough for comparison.
The artist, Rod Hunt, is perhaps best known for his “Where’s Stig?” books – a kind of “Where’s Wally?*” for Top Gear fans.
(Yes, that’s “Where’s Waldo?” for the Americans, but not in its original English form.)
Compare the rough to the final artwork - Southern Railway’s “Southern Adventure” summer advertising campaign, imagining the rail network & many of the regions tourist attractions as a theme park. Can you find Loco Toledo, the campaign’s Mexican Wrestler?
See the full project here
Historical Map: Austrian Edition of Airey’s Railway Map of London, 1876
Simply beautiful rail line and junction map from the earliest days of what would become the London Underground. Extremely notable for its use of colour-coding to differentiate between the lines of all the different operating companies. In the days of chromolithographic printing, using this many different colours would have been an expensive, highly technical and time-consuming task.
The following text is taken from the raremaps.com description of this map:
Extremely rare early Austrian edition of John Airey’s famous Railway Junction Diagram of London (not in the British Library!).
The present map is an early Austrian edition of Airey’s most important single map, Airey’s Railway Map of London and its Suburbs, illustrating the innumerable railway lines leading out of London, and importantly depicting the earliest two lines of the new London Underground System, along with at least one proposed line which was never constructed. Airey published his first edition of the map under that title in 1875, which subsequently ran into several editions. It, in turn, was based on a map that appeared in Airey’s book, Railway Map Diagrams (London, 1867).
The map’s fascinating an innovative visual composition was originally conceived as part of a series of diagrams illustrating the rapidly expanding routes of the various railways throughout Britain. With its carefully placed and labeled colored lines, it is the true precursor to Henry Beck’s celebrated London Underground Map of 1933. In this sense, Airey’s maps were the first truly modern rail transport maps, and they set the gold standard for such publications throughout Europe and America.
London was the first major city to be served by railways (a technology invented in 1830), with the first line connecting London Bridge and Greenwich being completed in 1836. During the ‘Railway Boom’ of the 1840s, eight new lines were added connecting London with the countryside in virtually every direction. Since that time, two new major lines had been added and new spurs had been built to access different parts of the city. Airey was commissioned to produce his diagrams by the Railway Clearing House (RHC), founded in 1842, it acted as an umbrella organization to collect and manage revenue from the various independent railway lines.
Perhaps the most important aspects of the map are the inclusion of the World’s first two Underground (or Subway Lines), the Metropolitan Line and the Metropolitan District Line (the original components of today’s District and Circle Lines). The Metropolitan Line was first opened in January 1863, while the District Metropolitan was completed in December 1868. Airey’s diagram shows how the new medium of the Underground integrated with the established railways.
The map also records the proposed location for one of the early underground lines which was never constructed, the London Central Railway. The London Central Railway was formed in late 1871 for an unsuccessful north-south promotion sponsored by the Midland Railway and the South Eastern Railway, for a link between St Pancras and Charing Cross Stations. The name again surfaced In 1884, when a London Central Railway Company sought unsuccessfully for authority to build an electrically operated line from Trafalgar Square to St Martins-le-Grand via Oxford Circus and Oxford Street. This was intended to be an extension of the Charing Cross & Waterloo Electric Railway (now part of the Bakerloo line). This was authorized in 1882 but never built.
The present, apparently unrecorded, edition of the map, may have been first published in 1876 in Vienna by the publishing firm of R. v. Waldheim, a leading house specializing in newspapers, music books and lithographic prints. From the inscription in the upper-right corner, it seems that the present map was originally issued within a book. While it is not clear which publication it is, it is possible that the map was associated with a later edition of the rare work Die Concurrenz im Eisenbahnwesen, a railway book first published by Waldheim in 1873. In any event, it is a fascinating testament to the contemporary pan-European fascination with Airey’s groundbreaking cartography.
Our rating: Simply beautiful: detailed in scope, but amazingly clear and simple in execution. Five stars.
Image source: Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps Inc.
Fantasy Future Map: Sydney, Australia by Thomas Mudgway
Thomas, who is a ninth-grader (i.e., he’s just 14 or 15 years old), says:
Sydney, my home town, has around 4.7 million people and already has a commuter rail network, however, the city is growing, and the network doesn’t cover everything, so I have augmented the network in many places, as well as showing how it could grow into the currently undeveloped far south- and north-west (they are generally the places where the stations have no names, there simply aren’t currently any for them). It is show by the thick lines. Also represented by the thick lines is the long planned north-west rail link in light green/khaki. Additionally, the map shows bus rapid transitways and light rail in half thickness, some built, some planned, and some I propose. Finally, the map shows the intercity trains as far as the city limits in quarter thickness, as well as an extra express service from the planned Badgerys Creek Airport to the existing Kingsford-Smith airport and the city loop.
Transit Maps says:
Being a native Sydneysider myself, I can’t help but laugh at the sheer audacity of some of Thomas’ proposals for new lines. Yes, it’d be great if there was a rail line running up through the Northern Beaches (from the southern side of the harbour via The Spit, no less!), but the geography of the area means it’ll realistically never happen.
Pipe dreams aside, the map is really quite beautifully drawn, especially for someone so young. His dream system is extremely complex, but everything fits together nicely with a good information hierarchy and harmonious colours. He’s even indicated ferry routes, busways and the extended light rail system to produce a fully multi-modal vision, which is great to see.
This is very promising work from Thomas: keep it up!
Historical Map: Train and Tram Travel Times in Melbourne, Australia, c. 1920
A handsome isochrone map produced by Melbourne’s Metropolitan Town Planning Commission to show the “minimum” (i.e., absolute best scenario) travel time into the city via suburban railways and tram lines. Some later additions to the network seem to have been pencilled in at the bottom right of the map.
Side note: Wikipedia’s article on isochrone maps includes the incredibly lazy assertion that “isochrone maps have been used in transportation planning since 1972 or earlier”, simply because that’s seemingly the earliest example the author could find to cite. This map, as well as this example from Manchester in 1914 (one hundred years ago!), clearly show that they’ve been used for this purpose for much longer. The moral of the story? Don’t trust everything you read on Wikipedia!
(Source: Daniel Bowen/Flickr)
Historical Map/Photo: Installing an Enormous Northern Pacific RR Map, 1917
A fantastic photo that shows a huge map being installed through a window at the Northern Pacific offices in St. Paul, Minnesota. The short article that accompanied the photo when it was first published in Popular Mechanics in February 1917 says:
A railway map of enormous size was recently installed in the immigration department of the Northern Pacific Railway offices in St. Paul. It measures 69 ft. long and 11 ft. wide and required the services of nearly a dozen men to carry it. The map shows that portion of the United States between the eastern boundary of Minnesota and the Pacific coast, and the entire Northern Pacific Railway system, including practically every station on the line. The whole representation is done on such a large scale that even the lettering used in the names of the smallest towns can easily be read several feet away.
Despite its great size, the map appears to be pretty coarsely executed. The presence of what looks like large handwriting — it’s not sign writing, but is written in a natural hand — across the top of the map leads me to think that this is some kind of photographic enlargement from a much smaller original map, although I have no idea how such large prints would be accomplished with early 20th century technology.
Source: Making Maps: DIY Cartography
Historical Maps: Railroad Spiral Tunnels of the Gotthardbahn, 1914
In my previous post, I mentioned that the map of the Gotthardbahn showed the spiral tunnels that the track uses to quickly change elevation in areas with limited space. Here are some fantastic maps of those spirals, taken from a 1914 German encyclopaedia and found on Wikipedia.
The maps show the spirals from north to south, with the distance in kilometres from the northern end of the line clearly shown along the route. The Gotthard Tunnel lies between the first and second map. The spirals are superb examples of late 19th-century ingenuity and engineering skill, still in use on the line today. The double loop around Wassen is considered one of the most photogenic spots along the route, offering three different views of the town’s lovely church as the line loops around the town.
Historical Map: Gotthardbahn (Switzerland and Italy), 1898
Here’s a beautiful Art Nouveau railway poster promoting the Gotthardbahn that links northern Italy with Switzerland and points north through the famous Gotthard Tunnel. At the time of opening in 1882, the tunnel was the longest railway tunnel in the world at 15 kilometres (9.3 miles).
The map shows the then privately-operated Gotthardbahn and its branch routes in thick black lines (the Swiss Railways incorporated the line into its national network in 1907). The tunnel is indicated by a dashed section, while the railroad spirals that the trains needed to quickly gain or lose elevation when space was limited are also indicated, although certainly not to scale!
The importance of this route to opening up European trade and passenger travel cannot be underestimated, and is well represented by the beautiful allegorical woman, standing atop a winged wheel — a symbol often used by European railway companies of the time — seemingly welcoming travellers from Italy to Switzerland, Germany and France.
Our rating: I’m an absolute sucker for Art Nouveau posters, and one that adds a railway map to the mix is always a winner in my eyes! Four stars.
(Source: Strange Maps website)