Sunday, October 3, 2010

Making a Subway Map XV


Holy anything! Almost panic time! I found an alternate diagram that I made in 2001. Over the last few months I've been trying to remember what improvements I had thought of when I made the alternate, but I had to go by memory because I thought I had scrapped it. It assumed mythical status in my mind.

Then I found it. Aaargh. I started to think that if I'd had this holy grail a few months ago, I would have drawn the new diagram based on it. Now what do I do? Too late now. Should I even look at it? Should I torture myself?

But take a quick look at this— I know you can't see any detail, but look at the overall layout.

OK. It turns out it was a little weird. Now I remember why I didn't use it. Whew.

However it inspired me about how to improve lower Manhattan. I was getting a little unsatisfied with that. The main awkwardness was the connections at Chambers St, Park Place, World Trade Center, but the extreme left-right exaggeration in general didn't sit right.

The 2001 alternate used a couple of diagonals to pull the red and blue lines closer to the center, and got everything south of Chambers St closer together. Paradoxically, to do this meant breaking the diagram apart vertically and widening between the orange and green lines in Midtown. I did this, and did all the repairs necessary as a result of it. If you look at the south Bronx in the final version and in the one I posted last week you can see what I had to do.

Here's lower Manhattan, old (last week) and new.

That was a lot of work to get it almost the same, at a glance. But I like it better.

You can also see the stripy lines for part-time services there in the new map.

I'm still concerned that the two kinds of stripy lines for part-time service and lines under construction might not be sufficiently different.

I am sure that the solid color lines read as more reliable in some way than the stripy lines. Without reference to the map key, you already suspect the stripy lines are not quite there in some way. You'd want to check a service guide if a stripy line looks like the way you want to go. I think the kind with a solid border and long dashes looks a little more all there than the other kind with no solid border and very short dashed lines.

To try to reenforce the meaning, I have put the word "open" and a year next to the sections under construction. Two for one: it explicitly informs you about plans, but also implicitly tells you that you can't ride this way right now. I've avoided naming the stations under construction for the same reason: you can't use them.

I'm thinking about putting labels next to the part-time service too, like "Mon-Fri" or "rush hour". Again it would not only mean what it says, but implicitly clue you to what the striping means on the whole map. I haven't actually done it yet in this first version.

There is no part-time striping on the mainline railroads. The lines are too narrow to carry it. Additionally, all of the service is pretty poor by rapid transit standards anyway. Instead I introduced a grey circle for stations that don't have service throughout the day every day. It's funny how that rule calls out the outer portion of the Montclair line in New Jersey, which has more than hourly service on weekdays but nothing on weekends, but not Melrose in the south Bronx, which has a two hour headway all day every day. But waiting two hours for a train is much better than finding no trains for the whole day, right? Maybe I should not bother. For any of these lines you'd better consult a timetable before travelling.

Should I name which railroad runs on each grey line? If you didn't know, you'd have to guess from the list in the map key. I probably should. If I do, I should probably indicate the few stations where Amtrak stops, too. But I don't want to get too detailed, so I've held back on this.

No number and letter codes on the subway. I'm trying out the idea of not showing them. Putting them in adds a lot of clutter.

DONE. It's a PDF. It's on my subway map page.

Postscript: I think I said in one of these posts that I wasn't going to show the ARC mainline tunnel from New Jersey until it was a little more advanced than some holes in the ground in North Bergen. Ha! Now it looks as if Governor Christie will cancel it. Well, that saves me trouble. Poor ARC. An ill-conceived version was hastily approved for political reasons, and the whole plan may be cancelled, not improved, again for political reasons. Meanwhile Amtrak has recently proposed building third and fourth track to Penn Station in new tunnels, which would make more sense, if you ask me.



  1. Congratulations! Looks great.

  2. Looks great! Congratulations and thanks for "thinking out loud" as you did the new version.

    BTW, you pre-dated the release page. :-)


  3. Beautiful.

    Maybe the line designations can be stamped on the lines themselves . . . A, C or 2, 3 . . .



  4. i am very sorry about that but, i think you located the "R" train's stops with "N" train's stops.

  5. You forgot the Aqueduct Racetrack northbound-only station!

  6. I just finally added the Aqueduct Racetrack station. If I'm going to show Belmont Park (one day a year in 2010!) and Meadowlands and Yankee Stadium, I should certainly show the half-there Aqueduct Racetrack.