Thursday, April 14, 2011

Designing the New York City Subway Map

Last night, the Museum of the City of New York brought together a panel of New York City subway map dignitaries for “The New York City Subway Map – Form v. Function in the Public Realm:” designer Massimo Vignelli, designer John Tauranac, author and typographer Paul Shaw, and KickMap creator Eddie Jabbour, in a discussion moderated by Steven Miller. A packed room listened to a dialogue about the designers’ efforts to help riders understand and navigate the New York City subway system and the unfortunate (d)evolution of the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s official map in recent decades into increasingly complicated, intermodal and difficult to read versions of itself — the latest of which was released earlier this year.
New York city subway map, by jshyun
Massimo Vignelli started off the conversation with an introduction to transit diagrams around the world. Massimo noted the differences between a diagram and a map, but stressed the importance of both form and function in both. A map is geographic, with streets and topography. It can locate you on a wide variety of scales, but it typically needs to be very detailed. A diagram depicts the structure of a system. Diagrams are commonly used to illustrate transportation systems all over the world. The 1972 Vignelli NYC subway map was an attempt at a diagrammatic display for the subway system, consisting of 45 and 90 degree angles, many colors, and extreme legibility. 

more articles about New York:

Urban Planning Today

The Next New York: How the Planning Department Sabotages Sustainability


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