It’s hard to find someone who’s neutral about Massimo Vignelli’s iconic New York City subway map, created in 1972 following his larger redesign (with Bob Noorda) of the typefaces and signage found throughout the transit system.
It was widely considered a flop when it debuted, with outraged commuters protesting until the MTA replaced it system-wide. (This may be because it was more of a diagram than a true map, with parks rendered in gray, rivers rendered in beige, and no mention of specific neighborhoods anywhere.)
But in the 45 years since, it’s attained cult status with both design and transit nerds—and the MTA has embraced its newfound popularity, putting the map on everything from socks to iPhone cases.
Still, you’d be hard pressed to find evidence of the Vignelli map in today’s subway stations—unless, that is, you happen to be at the 57th Street station on the F line. There, a remnant from the 1970s is hidden behind Plexiglass, as Forgotten NY and Gothamist reported this week.
As Gothamist notes, it’s been in place for some time—and was first spotted by Forgotten NY in 1999—but “it's just never been taken down. And because of the protective plexiglass, no one has stolen it.” So subway nerds, here’s your chance to see an icon IRL.
As for Vignelli himself, he always stood by the design; in a 1990 interview, he said “It's perfectI think it's the most beautiful spaghetti work ever done. It's terrific. And it's so clear, it's unbelievable.”