Skip

Your own Massimo Vignelli NYC subway map ($299)
April 24, 2008 12:42 PM   Subscribe

Massimo Vignelli’s 1972 NYC subway map is back Yours for the low, low price of 299 bucks for one copy of the limited edition of 500. (Previous MeFi comments on the famed design, which the New York MTA eventually shitcanned. [Via.])
posted by joeclark (30 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is easily my favorite of the historical NYC subway maps.
posted by josher71 at 12:46 PM on April 24, 2008


As a kid, I had this map on my wall -- and we didn't even live in New York.
posted by Slothrup at 12:49 PM on April 24, 2008


I never noticed before that his original map had all the stops in Staten Island. I believe later maps completely ignored the fifth borough.
posted by cazoo at 12:51 PM on April 24, 2008


The Kick Map is done in a similar style, although it includes a few more geographic features, including surface streets.

(I communicated with the designers via email once, they seemed like a great group of people.)

Why the NYC transit people seem to refuse the more diagrammatic style, when it's so clearly easier to navigate the system with, is beyond me. Sometimes I think they really want it to be as inscrutable and arbitrary to outsiders as possible.

There's certainly a time and a place for maps that show the subway in relation to the local geography, but they're not useful when you just want to navigate the subway system itself.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:54 PM on April 24, 2008


Hey, cool. I always thought the Vignelli map was terrible, but recoloring the lines actually makes it kind of usable. (Here's the 1972 original for comparison.)

I think they ought to have two maps, personally. I like the geographical kind better, but I can understand how some people prefer diagrams. And it's not like there's any lack of wall space in the system or anything...
posted by equalpants at 1:11 PM on April 24, 2008


Why does the 34 St Herald Sq connection between the yellow(W/R/N/Q) and orange (B/D/F/V) lines have two sets of dots, as seen here?

I think deciphering the connections in general are horrible on this map... and that's the most important part.
posted by smackfu at 1:14 PM on April 24, 2008


I love me a good schematic map, and I think the Vignelli map is terrible, too. The Kick map is much better.
posted by grouse at 1:16 PM on April 24, 2008


It is fundraising for a non-profit, apparently, which goes a long way towards excusing the price tag.

I have a collection of hard-laminated (10 or so) public transit maps on my guest room walls at home, and was thrilled to buy the Transit Maps of the World book just after Christmas. The book now resides at work, in permanent transit between graphic designers' desks.

Transit maps are gorgeous, when well-done: the perfect blend of function and pure design.
posted by Shepherd at 1:18 PM on April 24, 2008


If you're curious, check out the book "Transit Maps of the World". They have a host of different maps for New York City over the course of time.
posted by waylaid at 1:20 PM on April 24, 2008


one of my favorites...

If you can't afford the $299 , just print this one and frame it.
The reverse side was pretty awesome too...
posted by billyfleetwood at 1:21 PM on April 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


smackfu, I think it's clear that it shows there's a stop on each route going through the station, whereas other stations might be express for some lines and local for others. Compare the 59th & Lex transfer.

Personally, I do prefer the more schematic version aesthetically, but I never had a problem navigating using the more geographically correct version. I know a similar issue with the old Chicago CTA subway map, which has the lake on the bottom of a long-form map that fit above the doors on many cars, bugged me: three different routes had stops on Harlem, a due north-south street, but on the map they didn't line up (mainly because the line out to O'Hare had to be compressed to fit). It was schematically correct, but not geographically. But it did not have the beauty of this map, so it may not be a fair comparison.
posted by dhartung at 1:48 PM on April 24, 2008


I like the geographical kind better, but I can understand how some people prefer diagrams. And it's not like there's any lack of wall space in the system or anything...

Exactly. I'm surprised to hear that New York doesn't have both diagrams and geographical maps. If you know which stop you want to end up at and have to figure out the which lines to take to get there, you need a diagram. If you know where you want to end up on the surface and need to find out which stop is nearest, you need a map.
posted by ssg at 1:49 PM on April 24, 2008


ssg, the current NYC Transit map is a combination of both. It shows where the stations are in relation to major roads, but it plays with the scale quite a bit (Staten Island is tiny).
posted by oaf at 1:58 PM on April 24, 2008


Must get hold of a printed version of the Kick one before I next visit NY. I find the one they have in stations completely unusable.
posted by Artw at 2:11 PM on April 24, 2008


If you can't afford the $299 , just print this one and frame it.

Or if you wanted the updated version you could just stitch together the detailed extracts.

Email if you want a copy.
posted by cillit bang at 2:25 PM on April 24, 2008


Was this map in use as late as 1987? I remember it from when I lived there.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 2:29 PM on April 24, 2008


I find the one they have in stations completely unusable.

What? It totally makes sense.
posted by oaf at 3:32 PM on April 24, 2008


Nah, too tricksy and complicated with information and whatnot. We have metros. They are orange. (from)
posted by Free word order! at 3:45 PM on April 24, 2008


Is this the map used in the intro montage from The Warriors?
posted by DecemberBoy at 4:59 PM on April 24, 2008


This maps' only OK, I'd personally rather have the kickmap, but for some reason that guy is holding on to the full size pdf's.
posted by Mach5 at 5:32 PM on April 24, 2008


Was this map in use as late as 1987? I remember it from when I lived there.

In '88-'89 they definitely used the modified version. It looks very similar.

Is this the map used in the intro montage from The Warriors?

Probably (there was a copy on MySpaceTV, but it's been deleted). It is in the opening montage recreation in the video game, from about 1:30 on.
posted by dhartung at 5:35 PM on April 24, 2008


The Vignelli map sucks, that's why they "shitcanned" it. Sure its graphically pleasing, but whatever. It a classic example of noodly graphic design for the sake of itself. It a wonderful graphical representation of a system, but it totally blows for those poor souls who, at the end of the subway ride, would like to know where they are.
Subways aren't closed systems that exist for the sake of the pleasure of riding the dank underground rails, they are connected at every stop with another system, the streets of a city. I don't think the current NYC subway map is a thing of beauty, but it tells you how all the lines interconnect and what the address of every stop is.
My point is that, as a stranger to the city, you can do a lot more with the current map than with the Vignelli map. And you know, I would say the hard assed, information rich, and composition poor, map is much more in line with the spirit of my city.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 5:36 PM on April 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


exactly what stonestock said.

what's the point of navigating a subway system if you can't figure out which stop lets you out closest to your destination?
posted by ericbop at 5:57 PM on April 24, 2008


I have to say Stonestock has a point. The Vitelli map is useful only if you already know what's aboveground, or you have a surface map besides. It's a bit like all those New York highway signs that say things like "Major Deegan", when your map says I-87.
posted by beagle at 6:00 PM on April 24, 2008


what's the point of navigating a subway system if you can't figure out which stop lets you out closest to your destination?

This is exactly the problem with Toronto's subway map.
posted by oaf at 7:16 PM on April 24, 2008


I never had an issue with the schematic map. My problem has always been, when you come up the stairs, which way is which?! This is less bad in Manhattan, where the narrow island, abundant landmarks and numbered streets all help orientation, but in London, it's extreme, when you don't know the street (think about being new to Bond Street).
posted by Goofyy at 8:46 PM on April 24, 2008


what's the point of navigating a subway system if you can't figure out which stop lets you out closest to your destination?

Isn't that what a street map is for?

The current NYC doesn't do a particular job in either role. Its explanation of express and local services is particularly opaque to new visitors.
posted by cillit bang at 5:46 AM on April 25, 2008


Update: I emailed the kickmap guy, and he's not done with it yet. Here's to hoping!
posted by Mach5 at 7:02 AM on April 25, 2008


Interesting that the current map does have two versions. The web one is very schematic because it shows no streets, while the PDF one on that page has street-level detail.
posted by smackfu at 7:28 AM on April 25, 2008


I visited NYC last year, and had a real hard time with the map.

Geometric maps are far superior in terms of knowing how to get to your destination. If you want to know where to go, you don't need a map, you need a guidebook.
posted by SciencePunk at 7:40 AM on April 25, 2008


« Older "Big Bird says it's time to wake up..."   |   Clickity clack! Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post