Everything under the sun can be expressed as a Tube map. Including, as blogger Camestros Felapton demonstrates above, Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea books. A glance at the original and official maps of Earthsea reveals that world as an intricate, almost overwhelming archipelago: Camestros’s map, like all good transit diagrams, expresses the books as journeys between points.
Mapping London takes a close look at a 1928 map of the London Underground by E. G. Perman. Perman’s map, with its use of colour, italic lettering and focus on green spaces, seems like it comes from a completely different era, even though it was published only a few years before the release of Beck’s iconic Tube map.
Harry Beck may have created the iconic Tube map, which substituted a schematic diagram of the network for a geographically accurate map, but he didn’t invent the diagrammatic transit map. Alberto Cairo points to a number of pieces that explore examples of diagrammatic maps that were contemporaneous with or earlier than Beck’s work: Asaf Degani’s article in Ergonomics in Design points to the influence of designer F. H. Stingemore (see p. 12); Douglas Rose’s online essay comparing Beck with George Dow; and there’s a 2005 book by Andrew Dow (George’s son), Telling the Passenger Where to Get Off: George Dow and the Evolution of the Railway Diagrammatic Map. None of which is meant to diminish Beck’s achievement (I think), but serves to remind us that no innovation ever occurs in a vacuum. [Kenneth Field]
A data visualization by Gwilym Lockwood looks at where passengers get on and off the tube—it’s “a geographically accurate map of the London tube lines, sized by number of passengers getting on and off at each station.” Hovering over and clicking on each station reveals more data. [Maps Mania]
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.
Previously: Architectural Maps of 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.
We’ve seen geographically accurate maps of the London Underground, in which the Tube map is corrected for geography. In London Corrected, the geography is corrected for the Tube map. (The interface allows you to fade between the distorted road map and the Tube map.) [Mark Ovenden]
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, Jalopnik, Wired.
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.
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]
Londonist has a “first peek” at the new Tube map, scheduled to be released next month. “Open it up, and you’ll see something straight away that is new—for the first time, TfL has added in the trams, even though they’ve been running since May 2000.”