The official NYC MTA subway map; Eddie Jabbour’s KickMap; and the MTA’s Weekender map, by Vignelli Associates.
I’ve been waiting for a history of New York’s subways maps since I realised that the profusion on the London Underground’s diagram (particularly these three) had no equivalent, but somehow, I missed the publication of Vignelli Transit Maps last winter.
Having finally bought a copy, I found that I wanted a larger version of the modern version of Vignelli’s map, made without the constraints that helped to make the 1970s version relatively unpopular. After all, the 1979 redesign (chaired by John Tauranac) was allowed to recode the colours and consolidate the lines, which changed the nature of the map considerably.
Luckily, the MTA has started using a modernised version of the Vignelli diagram as the basis of their Weekender page, which shows which lines and stations will be closed for engineering work. A little bit of cheeky code later and I had a nice big page ready to screen capture.
I suspect my preference for the minimal, well-ordered, abstract diagram is relatively uncommon, but I’m happy with that.
I also still think there’s room for a book that looks at the history of the pre-1960s diagrams, when the NYC subway was still effectively split into parts. The RIT book makes it clear that part of the reason a unified map came so late to the system was that the BMT/IRT distinction persisted far longer than the line distinctions in, say, the London Underground did, and it goes on to concentrate on the design changes of the Vignelli diagram.
Mind you, on the flip side, it’s much easier to get a book about the design of the subway’s signage and typeface than it is for London’s equivalent.