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MIND THE GAP
December 5, 2005 4:44 AM   Subscribe

Harry Beck's famous map [current 287K .gif version] of the London Underground has a long history and is often praised as a definitive example of excellent information design. Many consider it unimprovable, but that doesn't stop many others trying. The latest variant is a project by Oskar Karlin, redesigning the map to illustrate journey time [warning: large, slow loading .pdf]. [partly via]
posted by normy (17 comments total)

 
Very cool. I've long admired the Underground map in terms of pure aesthetics (lines, curves, color), its ability to relay information, and the radical creativity (the abstraction) involved in its creation!
posted by kimota at 5:48 AM on December 5, 2005


Previous London Underground thread for people who like this stuff.
posted by teleskiving at 5:49 AM on December 5, 2005


Mornington Crescent.
posted by shoepal at 6:21 AM on December 5, 2005


whoops. Make that Mornington Crescent
posted by shoepal at 6:22 AM on December 5, 2005


There was a map which told you which carriage to board, to minimise time to the exit when you get off. That was unadulterated genius.
posted by ab'd al'Hazred at 6:33 AM on December 5, 2005


Thanks, as noted we've talked about London Underground maps before but the time-scale map is truly brilliant stuff.
posted by keijo at 7:39 AM on December 5, 2005


There was a map which told you which carriage to board, to minimise time to the exit when you get off.

I think that's The Way Out Tube Map, excerpt here. (Mentioned in the FPP teleskiving links to).
posted by drill_here_fore_seismics at 7:47 AM on December 5, 2005


That original Harry Beck map is a work of genius. I was in London with my parents when I was about 12 years old and I had that thing figured out the second day. Can't say that nowadays for NY or DC. Of course, I had a lot more brain cells when I was 12 years old also.
posted by marxchivist at 9:30 AM on December 5, 2005


The point is, it's not a map -"If you're going underground, why do you need bother about geography? It's not so important. Connections are the thing." (as Beck himself said) it's a diagram. /pedant
posted by altolinguistic at 10:19 AM on December 5, 2005


More maps here. And a slightly different account of the map through time from the FPP link here.
[via the wonderful Diamond Geezer (and his tube weeks)]
posted by patricio at 10:25 AM on December 5, 2005


I picked up Mr Beck's underground map - A history by Ken Garland from the London Transport museum earlier in the year-Very interesting as it traces the whole history of the L U map. You can probally get it from amazon
posted by maxmix at 10:25 AM on December 5, 2005


That map is featured in The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward Tufte.
posted by neuron at 12:39 PM on December 5, 2005


I find the geographical tube map strangely wonderful, having accustomed myself to the classic geometric map.
posted by MetaMonkey at 3:49 PM on December 5, 2005


There was a map which told you which carriage to board, to minimise time to the exit when you get off. That was unadulterated genius.

Yep, the Way Out Tube Map is fantastic, and I almost always use it. The guy who compiled it is pretty cool, too.
posted by grouse at 4:04 PM on December 5, 2005


You can probally get it from amazon

Mr. Beck's Underground Map
posted by kirkaracha at 5:00 PM on December 5, 2005


Very clever, must have been a bitch to work out. But:
i) What does it take so bloody long to load? Surely it's just vector lines and should be a piece of piss to render?
ii) It's full of spelling mistakes. "Higbury". "Westminister". "Marleybone". Unless re-naming the stations is part of the artist's 'statement', it's a very poor show.
posted by blag at 6:12 PM on December 5, 2005


Cool link. I wonder if a better way to do this would be to increase the thickness of the line, rather than the length. You could then retain the compactness of the original but still convey time.

That Way Out map looks great, I'll have to get a copy of that. What would also be good would be a site where you can enter your start and end point and it works out the best route. For example, I often travel from Waterloo to Kings Cross and used to go on the Northern/Victoria Lines, but since found out that it is quicker to go on the Bakerloo instead of Northern, as you simply have to cross to the next platform at Oxford Circus.
posted by chill at 4:24 AM on December 6, 2005


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