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Hyperlinear BART Map

September 18, 2009
tags: , ,

In response to all the straight-liners out there, reductio ad absurdum:

hyperlinear BART

Hey, you’re underground, so you don’t need to see the bay, right?

(By popular demand, black and white t-shirts are available on Zazzle.  Why in the hell are black t-shirts so expensive? Any other more reasonably priced vendors out there?)

For the record, I like most of what BART did on their new map, just not the part in SF. I’m all for straightening out wiggles, but the curves of the Mission are important. has an excellent archive of alternate takes on the iconic London Tube map.

The literal version:

literal london tube

vs the same area optimized:

london tube figurative

This is obviously better, but note that many ‘curves of significance’ are preserved — St. Paul’s, Regents Park, Covent Garden, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus…

There are tradeoffs however, as highlighted in this surprising map made by RodCorp — the dotted lines connect stations that are less than a third of a mile apart (where it would be quicker to walk than ride):

london tube walk map

(If only we had such a dense network of metro lines to have to worry about such things.)

One last argument — Baker St to Waterloo is about the same distance as Powell to 24th. Two maps, same scale:

waterloo to baker, powell to 24th

And here is how each transit map depict(ed) the curves along these routes of roughly the same distance:

waterloo 24th transit maps side by side

UPDATE: More relative map comparisons in this exciting post.

27 Comments leave one →
  1. Concerned Guajolote permalink
    September 18, 2009 1:01 pm

    Can I get that on a t-shirt?

  2. Brian Stokle permalink
    September 18, 2009 1:16 pm

    Bravo! I’d like the first image on a t-shirt too!

  3. September 18, 2009 1:20 pm

    Now you’ve made me wish I was going back to London soon. :(

  4. davidk permalink
    September 18, 2009 2:08 pm

    Ok, so at first I thought you were being silly about the Mission curve. Downright fanatacist even. But after this post, I’m thinking I miss it too. Touché, mes frères. Touché.

  5. burritojustice permalink*
    September 18, 2009 5:57 pm

    By popular demand, black and white t-shirts are available on Zazzle. (Through Sunday use the code PIRATEDAYTEE for $3 off. And why the hell are black t-shirts so expensive? Any other more reasonably priced vendors out there?)

  6. Concerned Guajolote permalink
    September 18, 2009 6:35 pm

    Order placed, thanks juanito

  7. DaveO permalink
    September 18, 2009 10:34 pm

    I LOVE the reductio ad absurdum version. Just fix the Castro Valley error and this is brilliant.

  8. burritojustice permalink*
    September 18, 2009 10:41 pm

    @DaveO, do you think I should nudge Castro Valley to the right a little bit?

  9. Dan permalink
    September 21, 2009 11:00 pm

    Nice hyper-straightened version. BTW, there was a time when humankind actually hadn’t developed the idea of an abstracted, simplified metro map and the maps of the London Underground were so realistic and respectful of actual geography that they were basically nonfunctional. The first abstracted/simplified map was an unsolicited proposal that a draftsman named Henry Beck drew in 1933, who hand-lettered thousands of letters in the London Underground typeface in the process. It’s interesting, as you point out, that the process of abstraction can reach a point of diminished returns when it erases something as recognizable as the curve in the Mission or the Bay.

  10. September 21, 2009 11:37 pm

    I love this quote from a Guardian article a few years back.

    “No, it’s definitely not a map. A map is geographic. This is a diagram.” Beck would have averred. The engineering draughtsman of Finchley referred to his creation as the “London Underground diagram”.

    Also, “Mr Beck’s Underground Map” by Ken Garland is supposed to be a good book.

  11. Dan permalink
    September 22, 2009 10:24 pm

    Aha! Thanks for the Ken Garland recommendation. Will definitely check it out. That is indeed a great quote from Beck.

  12. September 23, 2009 10:48 pm

    So the London transit managers removed the Thames from the Tube map. The mayor was unamused and had them put it back.

    (I somehow don’t think Gavin will get involved here.)

  13. November 18, 2010 2:32 am

    I liked your point, but was distracted by not being to find Baker and waterloo, expecting them to be in the same orientation as the powell -> 24th. Circling , arrows / highlights would have made it easier to understand your point, with some scale to make your point for especially pedantic individuals.

  14. Gannon322 permalink
    December 4, 2010 6:49 pm

    I love this design. T-shirt available but no poster or high quality prints? I would love to have this as a print to hang. Thanks.

    • December 4, 2010 7:16 pm

      Good idea. I assume the dark background? Black or some other color (dark blue, etc)?

    • Gannon322 permalink
      December 6, 2010 12:58 am

      HI Johnny,

      I like it on the white background. I’ll be the first one to purchase this. Thanks.


  15. Gannon322 permalink
    December 29, 2010 1:16 am

    Hi Johnny,

    I just got my posters today. They look awesome, thanks for making them available.


    • January 2, 2011 11:14 pm

      Glad you liked it! Thanks for the idea.


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