clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Imagining a Vignelli Subway Map with Correct Geography

New, 9 comments

The Massimo Vignelli subway map (or, more accurately, subway diagram), introduced in 1972, was modeled after Harry Beck's simplified map of the London Underground, and modified aspects of New York City's geography to maximize the diagram's visual navigability. It was widely loathed for that very reason, and was replaced seven years later, in 1979. However, Vignelli's work has enjoyed something of a nostalgic resurgence in popularity in recent years, and now Max Roberts, designer of the concentric circle subway map, has set out to answer to question of what a Vignelli diagram would look like with its fatal flaw (for the most part) corrected.

The end result is a compromise unlikely to please either Vignelli diehards or accurate geography hardliners. Roberts took Vignelli's map and attempted to shift it in such a way that would place stations in their (relatively) correct locations, but also maintain the visual simplicity that makes map-lovers adore the original diagram. City lab explains:

Roberts believes that 45-degree angles (as seen in Vignelli's 1972 and 2008 maps) don't quite work for New York because the broad line trajectories are usually steeper, or shallower. Instead, his map uses 30- and 60-degree angles. In the end, Roberts' map somewhat more authentic, but still very imperfect, outline of the city, with easy to read subway lines that appear to go straight a lot more than they do in real life. What do you think? Is this map more viable than the original Vignelli version? How does it stack up to the one the MTA currently uses?
· A Vignelli-Inspired Map Designed to Make the Least Amount of People Mad [City Lab]
· Massimo Vignelli stories [Curbed]
· Cool Map Things [Curbed]