At Ozone, we try to see artfulness in even the most commonplace of objects, and transit maps are some of our favorite examples. What might seem to only serve as a traveler’s guide (often a reminder of how confusing navigation can be!) becomes a piece of art in our eyes, an intricate, even kaleidoscopic meeting of colorful lines that can be just as recognizable as the city it comes from. Here are some of the stories behind designs from one of our favorite collections.
New York City - MTA Subway
As a New York City-based company, we at Ozone have plenty of experience with the NYC subway system. For a map, it can actually be a bit confusing - it’s not completely geographically accurate, given the large concentration of stations in Manhattan rendering it larger than its actual size. As a piece of art, its mesmerizing display of intersecting lines are instantly recognizable, made iconic by Italian artist Massimo Vignelli, who in the 1970s designed the color, font and “subway dots” scheme that is still used today.
Boston - The T
What started as a simple, short trolley line in the center of the city quickly expanded to meet the needs of its growing population. Today, the MBTA covers a vast stretch of the greater Boston area, offering connections to a commuter rail and bus system for those coming and going. Its lines have been tamed into a more uniform shape over the years; what was at first a network of winding lines representing old horse-traveled highways morphed into a neater, color-coded grid.
Chicago - The L
Stretching north to south down the side of Lake Michigan and branching out to the west, the Chicago subway’s design seems fairly simple...until you zoom into the center. Within this “loop”, all eight of the system’s lines intersect and form a colorful center before they split once again to begin their routes in reverse. The subway system’s name, the “L”, is short for “elevated”, despite portions of the tracks being underground.
Washington, DC - Metro
The DC Metro is perhaps most noticeable for its lack of a cohesive shape. Instead, each of its routes have their own form, from the U-shaped red line and L-shaped silver line to the more abstract shapes of green, pink, blue, yellow and orange. Unlike other cities, the DC Metro does not have a designated center or meeting point, though riders have plenty of opportunities to connect with other trains along each route.
Know of other transit maps that we should take a look at? Let us know in the comments!
~Ben LoPiccolo - Content Creator for Ozone Design