Sunday, September 5, 2010

Making a Subway Map XIII


If you had told me in May that I would still be working on the subway diagram in September, I would have despaired. But maybe now you can see why I kept revising the same old file for so long instead of redrawing it.

This week, I learned how to use the "live paint bucket" in Illustrator, or at least I learned it enough to use it to insert water features.

Here is the upper left portion of the map with possibly final water features. This is 50% size (if you click on it.)

Look at that. Manhattan is an island, and we have two major rivers in New Jersey.

You can imagine the East River running to the right into Long Island Sound, and the rest of the Upper Bay running from the lower edge to the Narrows. You'll have to imagine, because that's all I can do myself. I haven't drawn them yet.

I mentioned having trouble with Staten Island back in number XI, and I thought I had it solved then, but it was no good. When I tried to draw a reasonably simplified outline of the island around the railroad as I had drawn it, it didn't work out at all. Today I spent a while with it.

Here's the state as of August 20:

Not bad really, as far as it goes. The key points are to get St George positioned so I can draw a ferry line to it from South Ferry, Manhattan ; to show how it leaves the waterfront south of Clifton and runs off inland ; and to get Tottenville near Perth Amboy. As to the last point, even though "you can't get there from here" at the present time, there was once and might conceivably someday be a ferry the short distance between the two places.

Below is what I have right now, very much work in progress that may still change again:

That's what the water features look like in progress: tentative lines on the right, the beginnings of precise outlines at lower left, and completed work.

As you can see I have moved the Staten Island Railway a little upward and simplified its outline, which allowed also moving Perth Amboy a little upward as well. The stations St George to Clifton are along the waterfront, and Tottenville is not only closer to Perth Amboy but also on the waterfront (the real station is almost in the water).

I broke up the long string of stations by shifting the names from left side to right side south of Great Kills. I broke at that particular point because Great Kills has long been a short turn terminal for a few trains, and also simply because it's about halfway along. That's eighteen stations by the way.

The peculiar shape of Staten Island itself stands a chance of being reasonably represented by the outline I have in progress. It's as distorted as anything else on the diagram, of course. I had some much worse variations that I did not save.

Here's the center of the diagram at 100% size. This part is very close to finished.

Work since the last time I gave you a good look at this part:

• Improved the Chambers St, Park Place, World Trade Center transfer lines.

• Added a space between the yellow and orange lines around Lexington Ave station. I had had them touching, which was wrong because they are separate pairs of tracks.

• Used broken lines for portions under construction (purple, yellow, grey). That will be explained in the diagram legend, but I think it almost does not need explanation. I might put the word "open" and the projected year next to each one. I know work has also just started on the new Hudson Tunnel in New Jersey, but so little that I'm holding off on showing that for now.

• Moved the red line, upper left here, as I mentioned last time.

• Shifted a few things to line up with the final location of the East River.

• A trivial and almost invisible feature. If you look very closely you can see which lines cross the East River by bridge. There's a little white space around the rail line. I don't know why I bothered doing this.

That's it for this week.

Continued: Making a Subway Map XIV.


  1. Keep up the good work! :-)

  2. Thanks for the insight. I have been thinking about doing a map that shows the history of the system. The idea is from a map I have that shows the history of the London subway. Granted a map that shows current lines as well as the old els in NYC presents several issues.

    Seeing the process you went through here provides a good starting point as well as pointing out several pitfalls.