Sunday, August 22, 2010

Making a Subway Map XI


The answer was in northern New Jersey.

I've spent the last few weeks messing around with the suburban railroad portion of the diagram. Sometimes I feel like this has taken up way too much time for what is supposedly a diagram of the subway lines, but other times I remember that one of the things that makes my diagram different is that it shows more than the subway itself. People have mentioned that to me.

For this version I wanted to go a little farther out than before. Metro North is pretty simple, since it's just three lines with a series of stations. But in Long Island and New Jersey the lines intersect each other and branch out different ways before settling down to separate simple lines out. I thought it would be useful to include those areas. Beyond that seemed less necessary.

I kept having trouble with scale. Unfortunately I did Metro North first (see Making IX) and really compressed it, spacing the stations similar to subway stops. I tried to model Long Island on this and quickly ran into trouble because the position of many of the lines was determined by subway lines in Queens. I could compress station spaceing running outward from Flushing, Hollis, and Valley Stream, but the branches needed much longer gaps because for example the Far Rockaway branch had to reach down to the subway Far Rockaway, and the Hempstead and West Hempstead branches had to come close at their terminals. The difference in spacing looked wrong, but I left it while I thought about it.

The first thing I tried to do in New Jersey was the Morris and Essex. I think I sensed that it was the most amenable to compressed station spacing. I was determined to try that on all sides. I started realizing there was a problem with the Northeast Corridor line and Staten Island. I wanted definitely for Perth Amboy and Tottenville to come near each other, but even though the Staten Island Railway deserved subway station spacing, any reasonable positioning of Staten Island would still stretch the station spacing on the corridor to an extreme.

I kept putting off the northern New Jersey routes, the Main, Bergen, and Pascack Valley lines, because I had never worked out a good arrangement for them. They run more or less north parallel to Manhattan, and if I wanted to give any idea how their position relates to Manhattan, they needed to stretch too, just like the Corridor did down south.

But this led me to the solution. I just needed to put the stations farther apart all over. What if I used spacing similar to the subway lines only where the railroad stations really were a mile or less apart, like the subway, and put in longer spacing elsewhere? Not to scale, but suggesting scale.

With this in mind, over the past week, I finally got them all into shape. Let's go around the clock, starting at Westchester. (As usual, click to enlarge. These are all at 50% size.)

I re-drew the New Haven line. It used to run straight diagonal, from New Rochelle, but now I think you get a better idea that it's roughly the same distance between the three lines (and precisely the same distance on the diagram). The stations are no longer evenly spaced, but they are relatively correct against each other. For example, Dobbs Ferry, Scarsdale, and Mamaroneck are shown as about the same distance north, just as they really are. It's not to scale, but to relative scale.

On to Long Island.

I'm very happy with this now. The branches to Far Rockaway and West Hempstead now look like they belong with the other lines. The greater spacing beyond Mineola reflects the truly greater spacing between stations out there. The worst exaggeration is still at the first few stations on the Oyster Bay branch, but it's not wildly different any more.

New Jersey, south, and Staten Island.

Staten Island is now positioned pretty well, with the key points being St George in relation to South Ferry and Bayonne, and Tottenville in relation to Perth Amboy. I like it.

The Morris and Essex line still has its justifiable close station spacing out to Maplewood, and then it starts to open up a little. The distance to Summit is about right compared to stations on the lines below it.

New Jersey, north.

Look at that. First check: the Main and Montclair lines, lower left, look good in relation to each other. Clifton is the closest station to Montclair State. I allowed wiggly routings for the Main and Bergen lines, left side, to keep them right in relation to each other and to the lines on either side. The Pascack Valley is located well halfway between the Main and Bergen lines and the Hudson River (the temporary red line on the right).

At the bottom: is it tempting to see the Meadowlands branch and the end of the light rail at Tonnelle Ave as pointing toward each other? Routing the light rail to the Meadowlands has been proposed, to reach the stadium and the ill-fated mall (formerly Xanadu), although the latest plan is to run the light rail north on the old Northern Railroad line to Tenafly. I have room to add either routing without moving anything else.

Once I add Newark Airport, I'm done drawing lines! I'll need to add water features and that's it for the major work. Then I will go over all of the station names and get them properly positioned, which is boring and won't make an exciting post, but it needs to be done.

I am not planning to show subway letter and number markers. I am not even sure I will mark part time service but I'm still on the fence about that. Those will be the last things I do.

Continued: Making a Subway Map XII.

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