Once a design classic, the map has been ugly, and getting uglier, for a while. The rot started to set in with the baffling decision to show the fare zones using a series of irregular grey polygons that make it look like the familiar shape of the Tube network had been painted against the backdrop of the sort of artwork you’d find lining the corridors of a Gatwick Airport hotel sometime in the late 1980s.
But the bigger problem is that Transport for London have thrown more and more services onto the map without any apparent consideration for what it might need to change in order to accommodate them. Most of the map is still given over to the northern half of London, even though a growing share of the services it shows (the Overground, Tramlink, now Thameslink) are south of the river.
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.
There are a lot of Tube map-inspired maps of non-Tube map things out there, and not all of them are worth mentioning. This one, however, is: Sasha Trubetskoy’s map of the major roads of the Roman Empire in the year 125, done up like a subway diagram, colour-coded by name (both real, where available, and “creatively invented,” where not) and with all text in Latin.
Transport for London also operates river buses along the Thames; their maps of the London River Services are very much in the Tube map vein, in both tourist and non-tourist versions:
Of the tourist version Ollie O’Brien of Mapping London says this: “We like the pseudo-tube-map styling, although it could of course be simplified even further, with the Thames just being shown as a straight line. The inclusion of isometric squares showing the major landmarks near each pier is a nice touch. TfL has never really decided whether its river services are for tourists or commuters, but this map should satisfy both.”
A thing from 2015 that I hadn’t seen until recently: Londonist’s Tube Map of Roman London. “Stations indicate sites of major Roman landmarks, such as gates in the wall, municipal buildings and temples. Nobody knows what the Romans called their creations, so we’ve used the modern names, like Ludgate and Bishopsgate, which are medieval in origin. Stations in bold indicate locations where Roman remains are still accessible to the public.” [Londonist]
Speaking of Londonist, they had a great deal of fun pedantically savaging a decidedly unofficial tube map shower curtain. “This error-ridden shower curtain was purchased via a random seller on ebay, whom we’re not going to gratify with a link. A bit of googling reveals that tube shower curtains are a bit of a thing. There are many variations out there, all presumably knocked together and marketed without permission from Transport for London.” (So much of a thing that I thought I’d linked to something like this before, but apparently not. No doubt my readers can send me links.)
End of the Line is an attempt to be the last word in tube map pastiche. […]
While Beck himself likely ‘copied’ a number of aspects that ended up on his map he did so with consummate skill to create something unique, innovative and functional. Most subsequent schematic maps are pale imitations. We wrote a semi-academic paper about it which you can access from my blog here.
All too often we see transit map templates used as a short-cut to recognition and success. With no hint of irony whatsoever (!) we’ve done exactly the same and mapped the weird and wonderful world of Becksploited maps onto some tube lines and stations.
Becksploitation. There’s a term for you. It’s not like there’s no use for it.