In the mid-20th century pictorial maps in cartoonish styles were a popular way of promoting travel and tourism. In contrast to objective, realistic maps they appeal to emotions such as romance, fantasy and humor. They are used to tell anecdotes about a region’s history, culture and landscape in a way attractive to old and young. These illustrated maps are meant to inspire, not to provide travel information.
Pictorial maps or Bildkarten seem to be the opposite of the schematic metro-like maps of railway networks from the same period, composed of straight lines and without any details. Schematic and pictorial maps share one thing though: they are only loosely bound to geographic reality. Their common goal is to convey a message—either the straightforwardness of a journey or the attractiveness of a region.
Lots of maps featured here, mostly from European rail services. Since much of the study of pictorial maps focuses on the United States, as well as Britain (especially in re MacDonald Gill), this is a refreshing filling in of the gaps.
Scientific American reprints a 2016 article from The Mathematical Intelligencer on an obscure, but important, corner of transit map design: how to choose a colour for a metro line. The discussion is rather math heavy (and therefore above my pay grade), but the gist is that for ease of use lines’ colours should look as different from one another as possible, and it gets more complicated as you add more lines. “Not only must the new colors be unlike the old ones, but also they must differ from each other as much as possible.” The article discusses the math involved in choosing new colours. [WMS]
IanVisits has stumbled across Transport for London’s cache of car line diagrams (CLDs)—the linear maps that appear inside each train car. The TfL page includes CLDs ands CLD stickers for all lines going back to 1996; each line has its own PDF file that contains every iteration of its diagram, one per page. “No one will care about this whatsoever,” says IanVisits. IanVisits is, I suspect, wrong. [WMS]
Blue Crow Media’s latest map of urban architecture is the London Underground Architecture and Design Map, a collaboration between transit system guru (and friend of The Map Room) Mark Ovenden and photographer Will Scott. “The guide includes a geographical Underground map with featured stations marked, with corresponding photography and details on the reverse along with tips for where to find unique and unusual signage, roundels, clocks, murals and more. The map is protected by a slipcover featuring a distinctive die cut roundel.” Costs £9. More at Mapping London.
James Clark has updated his map of current and proposed railways in southeast Asia (see previous entry). The new version clearly delineates between current and proposed lines. “The black lines on the map represent railways that are currently operating, while the red lines are proposed lines. As with the subway map, proposed can mean anything from lines currently under construction, in feasibility study stage, or an on-the-record election promise from a pork-barrelling politician.”
Carelton University’s library has an online collection of Ottawa transit maps from OC Transpo and its predecessor agencies, dating as far back as 1929 (above). The originals scanned as PDFs, with SHP and KML files if the vectorized transit routes are what you’re really after. [Transit Maps]
Will Geary’s TransitFlow project is an experimental set of tools to build animated transit flow visualizations, built from Transitland’s open-source transit schedule data. More than a dozen visualizations are available in video form here; each shows the flow of trains, buses and other forms of transport over the course of a day. Very high visual appeal. More at the Guardian. [Metrocosm]
I’ve seen real-time maps of Swiss trains before; this one, Trafimage, comes courtesy of the Swiss Federal Railways, and includes all kinds of information about the network: rail and bus lines, stations, fare networks, as well as real-time train data. Clicking on “Train tracker” makes the trains appear as circles moving along the rail lines; it’s apparently timetable-based rather than tracking actual trains, but remember: these are Swiss trains. [Maps Mania]
In Nicholas Rougeux’s latest project, Between Stations, subway maps “were broken down into the segments between each station and rearranged to fill a common simple shape: a circle. Each diagram shows every segment in a subway system while maintaining geographic orientation (no segments were rotated).” The project page is full of hypnotic animations in which the maps undergo their transformations. Nicholas’s blog post explains the data, code and design behind the project. [Transit Maps]
As part of her Project Subway NYC, architect Candy Chan has created a series of X-Ray Area Maps of various New York subway stations. These maps show the subway stations—their platforms, their passages, their staircases—relative to the surrounding streets and buildings. Absolutely engrossing. Chan explains her methodology in this blog post. She’s also selling posters. [Kottke]
First published in June 2015, Thrillist’s Real D.C. Subway Map replaces Washington’s Metro station names with “an accurate depiction of what you’ll encounter when you exit the train.” It’s about what you’d expect. [Curbed DC]