Fantasy Map: Gotham Transit Authority Map from “The Dark Knight Rises”
It’s Batman Day! (Who knew, right?)
In honour of the world’s greatest detective, here’s a strangely familiar transit map that was used as a prop during filming of “The Dark Knight Rises”.
And here’s a link to a great article on Smithsonian.com about the surprisingly well-defined and official geography of Batman’s hometown.
Source: New Jersey Star-Ledger
Historical Map: Frankfurt S- and U-Bahn Map, 1982
Here’s a great map that shows the rapid transit of Frankfurt am Main in Germany at an interesting point in its development.
The Citytunnel that carried lines S1 through S6 under the central part of the city had opened just four years prior to this, and the bridge over the Main that carried the new S14 and S15 lines was constructed in 1980. The year after this map was produced, the Citytunnel was extended from Hauptwache to Konstablerwache, transforming it from a small station that only served the U4 and U5 lines to the second-busiest station in the network.
Also of interest is the strong divide visible in the network north and south of the Main river. Only one coloured S-Bahn route (the S15) makes it south of the river, and then only just. The rest of the routes that service the south are all shown in black, and all depart from the mainline platforms at the Hauptbahnhof. In effect, they’re really regional trains, despite their “S” numbering, and actually appear to be indicated as such in modern maps of the network.
The map itself is a great example of nice, clean, 1980s German transit map design, apart from the oddly large and out-of-place asterisk used to mark short-turn stations.
Our rating: Good-looking map of a system that was expanding rapidly at the time. Three-and-a-half stars!
Source: Dennis Brumm/Flickr
Unofficial Map: Istanbul Railway Network by Bertan Kılıçcıoglu
I’ve already featured an excellent unofficial map of Istanbul’s transit network by Kerim Bayer (June 2012, 4 stars), but here’s a new one that’s worthy of some attention.
First, let’s note that Istanbul’s transit network has expanded considerably in the last couple of years, and there’s now finally a rail connection across the Bosphorus, as well as a new Metro bridge over the Golden Horn (with a station in the middle of the span, no less!).
Although there’s a revised official map to go along with this expansion (see the second image above), it’s pretty poor. Weird non-standard angles are employed to shoehorn new routes into the existing framework of the map and the whole thing has a very tired, amateur feel about it.
Apparently, Bertan felt so strongly about this poor, sad map that he decided to rework it in his spare time. A man after my own heart!
What’s interesting about his map, though, is that it’s not really a new design at all. Bertan has taken all the elements of the old map — the same colours, route line thicknesses, symbols, icons, and legend information — and has simply used them in a far more attractive, considered way.
Route lines are strictly limited to 45 degrees, all labelling is horizontal (and he’s taken great care to stop labels from overlapping his route lines), interchanges are shown more cleanly… and more! It’s a great example of how a little bit of care and effort can transform an ordinary map into something much more cohesive and user-friendly.
For those who are interested, the (rather nice, if a little quirky) typeface used on Bertan’s map is the open-source Google font, Titillium Web.
Our rating: Using the same building blocks as the official map in an intelligent way, Bertan has transformed this map from dowdy to diva: four stars!
Source: Bertan’s portfolio website — click through to read more about his design process, as well as see some more comparison images.
Isaac Fischer writes:
Hi Cameron! I just wanted to thank you for your review of my map for the New Mexico Park and Ride system (July 2014, 3 stars). I thought I should let you know that I have contacted Park and Ride and they are considering adopting my map in place of their regular one. (I made the edits you suggested and also produced a miniature version that will more easily fit into their timetable.) I’ll let you know if they end up adopting the map.
One other thing that might interest you: I make all my maps in OmniGraffle, which is available for both Mac and iPad (but not for Windows or Linux machines). I wasn’t sure if you were aware of OmniGraffle’s potential for designing transit maps, but it is remarkably effective (I designed the Park and Ride map in about two hours). I never understood Illustrator or Inkscape; OmniGraffle is much more user-friendly. If you’re interested, I’d suggest checking it out.
Transit Maps says:
That’s very interesting news, Isaac! Hopefully they can see the value in a good system map and not only adopt it, but also pay you an amount that reflects that value for your work.
I’m aware of OmniGraffle, but I would have a couple of qualms about using it for professional map-making work.
Firstly, it’s not industry-standard software, which limits the ability to share work with other designers who don’t have the application, and it also prevents you from learning the Adobe Illustrator techniques and skills that would be required in a real-world job.
Secondly, I’m not sure of its ability to create proper four-colour process (CMYK) or spot-colour output files, which would be an absolute deal-breaker in a print production environment. Later conversion from RGB to CMYK could cause unwanted and unexpected colour shifts, especially with blacks and RGB colours that are brighter than can be printed in the limited CMYK gamut (greens and blues are especially susceptible to this). To be fair, I’ve seen conflicting reports on whether or not OmniGraffle can export a CMYK output file, so it may be capable of this.
In short, if you’d like to experiment with transit mapping for fun or as a hobby, then OmniGraffle looks like a cheap, easy to use solution. Isaac has certainly proved that quality work can be created in it. However, if you’re looking for a career in mapping, then there’s no way around it: learn Adobe Illustrator and learn it well.
Thanks also to “Bklynfatpants”, who left a comment on the site noting that it wasn’t necessarily fair to compare Isaac’s complete map with the tiny schematic that Park and Ride uses in their schedule. Park and Ride does have a complete system map, viewable here (PDF). It’s a geographical map, exported directly from GIS software. It’s still pretty bad, although admittedly much better than the itty-bitty schematic.
Historical Map: Nicholson’s Complete London Guide Bus Map, c. 1980
Unusual and potentially confusing bus map that chooses to colour-code routes by the major thoroughfare that they travel down: all Oxford Street buses are orange, all Farringdon Road buses are lime green, etc. However it’s all a bit of a mess, made more so by the strangely yellow/orange-heavy colour palette. Westminster Bridge is crossed by six routes; five of them are way too similar to each other (orange-brown, yellow, orange, another orange-brown and lime green). Only the dark green Victoria Street route line provides sufficient contrast with the other lines here.
The map also requires the user to have more than a passing familiarity with London bus routes, as it only lists their route number as they leave the map, not their destination. I know that Route 9 passes through Piccadilly, but where does it go after that? A travel-savvy Londoner might know, but a tourist may not.
Reminiscent of this similarly confusing central Sydney bus map from 2000, although at least the Sydney map tells you the final destination of the bus routes!
Our rating: Idiosyncratic, strange and not actually terribly useful. One-and-a-half stars.
Photo: Tassenger (sic) Traffic Circuit Sketch Map
Putting the “net” in “network”. Long distance bus map in Qingdao, China.
Submission - Historical Map, Boston Elevated Railway System, 1932
Submitted by emotingviamemes, who says:
This is an old Boston Elevated Railway Company map from a user guide I purchased at the wonderful Ward Maps store in Cambridge, MA. It’s a lovely relic of its time! The rest of the guide gives transit directions to landmarks and points of interest. I’m not exactly sure why the modern day Blue and Red Lines are the same color on here, unless some color had faded with age.
Transit Maps says:
Yep, it’s a beauty alright!
I’ve given up trying to comprehensively date Boston maps (one of my readers always comes up with more accurate dating than me!), so I’m just putting it in the rough range of 1928 to 1938, mainly based on the existence of the Atlantic Avenue Elevated line.
Note: Steven Beaucher from Ward Maps has identified this as the 1932 map for me (see, I told you someone else would know!).
Regarding the route colours as shown, I’d just say that it was done in an effort to minimise the number of colours used in the print job. The “yellow” and “red” lines on this map run concurrently with each other between Haymarket and North Station and thus need some visual differentiation to make them easy to follow, while the two “blue” routes only cross other routes and don’t interact with each other, so they can safely use the same colour. Assignation of route colours back in those early days of transit map design was quite random: even early pre-Beck London Underground maps could never really decide which line got which colour. And remember that Boston’s modern route colours were only defined in the late 1960s when the famous “spider map” was introduced.
Photo: Making Sense of It All
Submitted by Mark, who says:
I was trying to capture a photo of the remnants of this strip list/map when the little girl got in the way and made the photo much better.
Transit Maps says:
Submission — Unofficial Map: Intercity and Commuter Rail of North America’s East Coast by Edward Powell
Submitted by Isaac Fischer, who says:
Here’s a neat map I found online that shows the entire American east coast, as well as southeastern Canada. It shows both commuter and intercity rail lines. As far as I can tell, it seems fairly accurate, and could definitely be useful.
Transit Maps says:
While there’s more than a passing resemblance to my own Amtrak Passenger Rail map here — both in the general aesthetics of the map and in the circle/line device used to indicate whether trains call at a station or not — this map adds another whole level of detail by adding commuter rail services (and eastern Canada!) to the mix.
Note that the map shows intercity and commuter rail only, meaning that in New York, for example, the LIRR and Metro-North lines are shown, but not the subway. For a map of this scale (the entire eastern seaboard), that seems like a wise choice.
The layout of the map is great: nice and clean, very diagrammatic but still mindful of the “lay of the land”. The use of a single, distinctive colour for each agency also works really well — Amtrak’s distinctive teal blue and purple for the MBTA commuter rail are especially effective.
However, I find the typography less inspiring, with labels at a lot of different angles combined with some fairly lacklustre type layout for the different agency legends.
Edward also could have proofed his work a little better (although it’s definitely difficult to do a project this size, as I well know!). Even a cursory look at the map revealed quite a few errors, including labelling all the commuter rail stations in Florida as “VIA”, rather than “TRI” for Tri-Rail. Lake Worth station is also included twice, at the expense of Boynton Beach. Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, a duplicate Chestnut Hill East station strangely serves as the terminus for the Chester Hill West line. And so on…
Our rating: great diagrammatic layout (although too huge to ever realistically be reproduced as a poster), but let down a bit by some average type treatment. Still a lot of detail to savour and enjoy, though! Three stars.
Source: Edward’s DeviantArt account
Submission - Historical Map: MARTA Rail System, 1984
Submitted by Chris Bastian. The map is almost identical to the one shown in this photo submitted by Matt Johnson a couple of years ago, but with the “Under Construction/Design” dots for the extremities of the North/South line clearly visible.