A Map of the London Underground Track Network

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A freedom of information request sent to Transport for London in 2013 turned up this 2009 map of the London Underground’s track network (17.1 MB PDF)—complete with sidings, switches and yards. Among other things, you can see how a train can cross from one line to another. CityMetric picked up the story last week and it’s gone seriously viral since then: Boing Boing, JalopnikWired.

If this is the sort of thing that fascinates you, you should go look at Franklin Jarrier’s maps of urban rail networks (which I told you about in 2011). These aren’t official maps, but they do for many systems around the world what the map above does for the Tube.

Doctor Who Does Trap Streets

Last year a Doctor Who episode turned the concept of the trap street—a fictitious map feature designed to catch copyright violations—on its head. In the series nine episode “Face the Raven,” the Doctor looks for a London street that cannot be found on maps.

THE DOCTOR: But if the stories are true though, there should be a street in one of these old maps that no longer exists in the real world.

CLARA: Like a trap street, only not.

THE DOCTOR: What did you say?

CLARA: A trap street. You know, when someone’s making a map—a, um, cartographer—uses a fake street throws it into the mix, names it after one of his kids or whatever, then, if the fake street—the trap street—ever shows up on someone else’s map they know their work’s been stolen. Clever, right?

THE DOCTOR: My God! A whole London street just up and disappeared and you lot assume it’s a copyright infringement.

Unlike trap streets, the street exists, and the reason it has disappeared has nothing to do with cartographic copyright. Finding the street takes some doing, as this clip the BBC has made available recently shows; unfortunately, it takes place immediately after the bit I quoted above.

Architectural Maps of London

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London-based publisher Blue Crow Media has begun issuing a series of cartographic guides to urban architecture. They sent me samples of their first two maps, the Art Deco London Map and the Brutalist London Map. (A bilingual Constructivist Moscow Map came out this week, and a Brutalist Washington Map is coming in October.)

Each is a folded paper map of London, 42 × 60 cm in size, that highlights more than 50 examples of Art Deco or Brutalist architecture, respectively, found in that city. On the front side is the map itself, where the architectural examples, highlighted in red, pop out against an extremely spare base layer that has no text except for parks and Tube stations; streets are unlabelled. The end result is dramatic and clear—the grey-on-black Art Deco map is particularly striking—but presupposes a familiarity with the landscape (or a smartphone); these maps really can’t be used on their own to find things. They’d look awfully good on a wall, though. These are simple, well-designed maps that make a virtue of simplicity. They cost £8 each (or two for £14.50).

Tube Maps with Walking Distances

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The Tube map, like other diagrammatic transit network maps, does not show distances between stations very well: two adjacent stations on the map could be right on top of each other or miles apart. Last November Transport for London released a map showing walking times between each station (PDF); news stories at the time connected it to imminent strikes by Tube workers. Now they’ve released another walking map, this one showing the number of steps between each station (PDF), which is presumably mainly of interest to people with activity trackers (pedometers, fitness bands and smart watches) that count their steps. News coverage from the Daily Standard. [Map Makers]

The Illustrated Map of London

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Illustrator Cally Lathey has produced a second edition (I hadn’t seen the first edition before now) of her Illustrated Map of London. This extraordinarily detailed and whimsical hand-drawn map is the result of five months’ effort; this short video chronicles the process.

It’s available as a limited edition print in two sizes, prices ranging from £110 to £140. Maps of central, north, west, southwest, southeast and east London are also available. More about the map at Londonist and Time Out London. [WMS]

Wonderground Map Calendar

wonderground-calendarHere’s a coincidence for you. On Saturday, the day after I posted about an exhibition of MacDonald Gill’s pictorial maps, I discovered, while shopping at a local stationery store, that there was such a thing as a MacDonald Gill Wonderground Map of London calendar. (It’s also available on Amazon.)

Previously: MacDonald Gill Exhibition in San DiegoMacDonald Gill’s Wonderground Map.

Greater London A-Z Street Map

greater-azIt shouldn’t surprise me that there’s a mobile version of the London A-Z Street Atlas. There are, in fact, several, the most recent of which is the Greater London A-Z Street Map, which covers some 3,743 km2 of territory and stores all its maps—the same maps you’d get in the paper edition—on the device. (Which makes it a fairly significant download: 603 MB on iOS, 382 MB on Android.) The iOS version costs £5 and is compatible with both the iPhone and iPad. The Android version is available on Google Play and costs about the same.

Fuller Update

Fuller, London Town, 2005–2015. Black ink on archival cotton board, 91 cm × 116 cm.
Fuller, London Town, 2005–2015. Black ink on archival cotton board, 91 cm × 116 cm.

The Bristol Post reports on artist Gareth Wood (aka Fuller), whose iconic London Town—now acquired (as an archival print) by the British Library—was preceded by a similar map of Bristol. An exhibition of his work, called Get Lost, will run from 5 to 26 May at the Palm Tree Gallery, 291 Portobello Road, London, W10 5TD. [WMS]

Previously: Fuller: London Town.

Update: BBC News on institutions’ acquisitions of Fuller’s art.

London’s Population Versus …

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There’s a certain kind of map found all over the Internet that drives me nuts. It’s the map that compares two geographic regions by labelling one with the other: show that this U.S. state has the same GDP as that country by labelling with that country (or better yet, its flag). But the comparisons can get awfully recondite: labelling the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul with Zimbabwe’s flag because they have similar populations is cute but ultimately useless, unless you have some familiarity with both Rio Grande do Sul and Zimbabwe. They’re bad maps because they’re not really informative—they’re just showing off.

But the problem isn’t necessarily the format. For an exception to the above, see TimeOut London’s maps of London. The first map (above) shows London’s population size by illustrating how many other cities’ populations could be crammed inside London’s boundaries; the same is done with greater metropolitan areas, U.S. cities, Scotland and Wales, and other countries. These maps work because a British-based reader will have some sense of what’s being compared to London: they’re not, in other words, esoteric comparisons. [via]

Fuller: London Town

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Fuller, London Town, 2005–2015. Black ink on archival cotton board, 91 cm × 116 cm.

Fuller’s London Town is a pen-and-ink masterpiece of detail that took ten years to create. Unveiled last October, it’s been making the exhibition rounds and is currently at the Hoxtown Gallery in Holborn, London until April 30th. It’s also included, along with his map of Bristol, in Mind the Map, a collection of map art that came out last September from GestaltenPrints of his work are also available: a print of London Town costs £600 or £2,500 depending on the size. More about Fuller (whose real name is Gareth Wood) here. [via]