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admin 16.02.2015

Vignellia€™s now-classic New York City subway map was first introduced in 1972, following his work on the signage system in the late 1960s.
We spoke with Paul Shaw, author of Helvetica and the New York Subway System, back in February on the topic.
In 1979, Vignellia€™s linear map was replaced with a moreA traditional-style topographical map. All New York subway maps have tried to convey all the information on a single map, with the result of making semantic overlaps, and a very fragmented and visually unpleasant map. This summer, New York Citya€™s Metropolitan Transportation Authority unveiled its first major subway map redesign in over a decade.A Is todaya€™s new subway map the Holy Grail? New York-based design duo David Heasty and Stefanie Weigler of Triboro Design make it worka€”and they do it all in one single color. One goal was to try to make the landmasses and geography more true to life than the current MTA map and establish a stronger sense of typographic hierarchya€¦ Initially we tried making the subway lines very stronga€”which is a typical feature of most subway mapsa€”but this made the map extremely difficult to decipher. As beautiful (and functional) as this map is, ita€™s not likely to replace the official MTA map anytime soon. The Kick Map is designed to get more people to ride New York City's subway systema€¦ A well-designed map not only welcomes and empowers novices to use the subway but also encourages additional use for regular a€?home-to-work-onlya€™ commuters to use the subway for recreational destinations where they might otherwise take a car. Jabboura€™s map even caught the (brief) attention of the MTA in 2007, but was soon dismissed for being geographically inaccurate. Hardcore New Yorkers tend to shake their heads at tourists confusedly poring over the NYC Subway Map.
But the map has been around so long and changed so little from its basic navigation that the problems tend to hide in plain sight.
Now, to be clear, you couldn’t simply lift these ideas and implement them on the Subway Map as it now stands. With the current Subway Map, you have something struggling to serve two purposes, and therefore not doing a particularly good job at either. But not because Manhattan is too small, ita€™s because they want to put too much information that doesna€™t belong in the diagram.


The only way to provide clear information is to have both an abstract system map and a geographical map as separate complementary maps.
The verbal map, for example, was only implemented from one station while the neighborhood map was implemented in a few stations.
Triboroa€™s one-color map builds upon the Vignelli-style map, retainingA all of the content from todaya€™s map including the service guide, the city streets, and the various bus and ferry connections. The Kick Map aims to resolve the 50-year debate between diagrammatic and topographic mapping, with a design that combines the best of both worlds.A Unlike the Vignelli map, where stations and lines are distorted for pure graphic harmony, the Kick Map attempts to be geographically accurate while still standardizing angles whenever possible. For this reason the design of the subway map can directly influence ridership numbers and can indirectly have an effect on New York's traffic congestion and pollution. Does Mies van der Rohe's mantra a€?Less is morea€™ hold up or does the consumer, especially in the information age, need more? We like to talk about graphic design, branding, typography, and sometimes we might post a video or two. There is, however, a fascinating little suggestion at improvements buried on the MTA’s website. But there are significant problems that remain: For one, multiple trains travel down single-colored tracks on this map. This is partly out of necessity: This map in particular is a guide to service interruptions, so the trains had to be broken apart to show that one might not be running at a given stop, even while another on the same line is running fine. Meanwhile, the pedestrian links between lines are shown using simple black lines, at right angles. Thus, one of the amazing things you often see is people using the Subway Map as a surface map of New York.
What if we had a map more like the Weekender, with a slightly abstracted geography and only major thoroughfares overlaid onto it? Ita€™s been over 30 years since the Italian designera€™s New York subway map was axed, but ita€™s still a passionate issue.
We decided to deemphasize the subway lines, making them so light that they almost disappear.


In short, a better-designed subway map will make our subway system more open and accessible. On the other hand, ita€™s 2010 and with technology like Google Maps and mobile apps (includingA someA which even tells us which subway car to get on) perhaps the printed subway map is a thing of the past? Grab our RSS feed and follow us on Twitter where we post the extra bits that don't make it here. Or what if the geography was revealed more forcefully on the opposite side of the page that the Subway Map was printed on, thereby breaking the hybrid functionality of the current map into two separate parts? What about, for instance, the fact that the Vignelli map represented Central Park as a square, when in fact it is three times as long as it is wide? The back of the map which used to show each subway line in a Vignelli-like manner as route strips now has a commuter map of the New York metropolitan region. The stops then come to the foreground and viewers can connect the dots (so to speak) with their eyes, tracing and revealing individual subway lines. If you're underground, of course, it doesn't matter: there simply aren't as many stops along Central Park as there are in midtown, so it requires less map space. The emphasis now is on the entire MTA (which is much more than the subway),a€? explains Shaw. I wouldn't say that our one-color map is easy to use but we think it is surprisingly functional.
That’s a decent solution to a hard problem, but the open circles too-often coincide with transfers to other trains.
But what if, for whatever reason, you wanted to get out at 59th Street and take a walk on a crisp fall evening?
Imagine your surprise when you found yourself hiking for hours on a route that looked like it would take minutes on Vignelli's map.



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