New York City is testing a new subway map

Image for article titled New Subway Map Just Released

Image: MTA

New York could get a reboot of the iconic 1970s subway map if it wants to. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is currently testing the update at nine stations, including Times Square and Grand Central; says MTA Chief Customer Service Manager Sarah Meyer Wall Street Journal that it will replace the current if it goes well.

Unlike the current, geographically more accurate, new maps it bares lakes and small islands, shatters Manhattan, and replaces the veined network of tracks with a straight-line scheme. Here is the current one, which has been used since 1979:

Image for article titled New Subway Map Just Released

Image: MTA

It is OK.

And here is a new one, which refers to the map of the Italian designer Massimo Vignelli, in use 1972-1979:

Image for article titled New Subway Map Just Released

Image: MTA

… which will be displayed next to the geographically accurate one one for good measure:

Image for article titled New Subway Map Just Released

Image: MTA

MTA Client Director Sarah Meyer told the Wall Street Journal that she was trying to “present this map in a non-fearful way, introducing it gradually so that people would get used to it.” Fear sounds like a wild reaction to the map, but redesigning the subway map is an explosive advance in what has become known as maps of wars. People suggested slow maps, with detailed landscapes marking parks and neighborhoods, and fast maps like that map of circles who adores Manhattan and city districts like the rainbow around Staten Island. There is a folder with there is no land at all and more inclusive map which neatly includes the Long Island Railroad and Jersey City. Each of them makes assumptions about how much people need to know; if a tourist asks for directions, you can tell him to turn left or you can give him five routes with restaurant recommendations.

The current map appears to have been designed with generosity in mind, and was devised by tour guide and historian John Tauranac, who had no professional design training. Some designers find this awkward, with lines so delicate that you have to ask someone to move their hair to decipher them. But the more proportionate, spread lines also give a more realistic estimate of how long it takes to get to JFK, and then the details are drawn into the walls of the subway car. Its beige islands have gentle, rounded shores on the kind blue sea, at a safe distance from Staten Island.

Soon, if New York embarks on an update, the Earth will flatten into a block of Tetris, various islands will sink beneath the ocean, and Mafia Wives will get close enough to hit Manhattan with a high heel. Vignelli’s original map is a manifesto of design in efficiency over superfluous realism. Noticeably. Timeless. Clear, bright lines that straighten the tangle of scattered paths into neat parallel corners. The arrangement helped Vignelli make money reputation as “One of the greatest graphic designers of the 20th century.” Later in life, he kept it his map was “perfect.”

But the map also infamously edited unimportant parks and condensed land masses, to the extent that people left the subway disoriented; 2006, New York Times wrote it “[t]our descendants got off the subway at the bottom of Central Park and tried to walk to the top, for example, expecting a 30-minute walk. “Manhattan is crowded and the airport is for ants. The subways where the subway ends are gone.

The map argument was so controversial that in 1978 there was a debate between designers from Cooper Union inspired the book. Vignelli said the new map made him “recover”. The Tauranese later told Gothamist that Vignelli “felt he was above everything.”

Vignelli told 2006 New York Times that it does not need spatial accuracy because that is not the purpose of this map. “Of course I know Central Park is rectangular, not square,” he said. “Of course I know the park is green, not gray. Who cares? You want to go from Point A to Point B, point. ”

The sea is blue in the update. Assuming people don’t go crazy, the time frame for the current retirement is not clear.

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Naveen Kumar

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