Welcome to the fun, "irreverent & informative", award-winning London Underground Tube Blog.
Click here for other London Underground guidance. Contact me here

Going Underground's Blog
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Annie Mole's, webmaster of Going Underground, daily web log (blog).
If you like this you'll LURVE One Stop Short of Barking, THE fun and informative BOOK about travelling
on the London Underground.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Metro Maps and Architecture of the World

Subway maps and metro architecture talks were excellent

Last night a group of us (
Neil, Fimb, Jon Choo and SK) went to see Mark Ovenden talk about subway maps from around the world and the architecture of subway stations. His speech packed into less than two hours was really amazing. He was joined by Max Roberts who spoke about what became fascinating subject of how countries around the world draw, rather peculiar and inaccurate, maps of the London Underground for their guidebooks.

There was so much in both speeches that I'm going to do several posts about the information they covered, although I'll focus mainly on the London Underground, even though they covered international subway sytems.

I'll start with my first contact with Mark, who saw an article I had written for the BBC on The Life & Times of the London Underground Map. He emailed me to ask if I would plug his appearance on a TV programme last September - Nicholas Crane's Map Man. I duly plugged it, along with a talk that I went to in Kew Gardens by Ken Garland on Harry Beck's original and classic Tube Map from the 1930's which revolutionised the way subway maps are designed and are still dependent on his original diagram today.

Cartoon from Punch showing the simplicity of the old London Underground map

Interestingly Mark used the same Punch cartoon in his presentation last night to illustrate how complex and confusing the London Underground map looked before Beck came along and "straightened it out". Removing streets, distorting geography, straightening out lines and exaggerating the size of central area where there more stations closer together, are all things that make Beck's map great and usable.

London Underground Boxer ShortsSome of you will know that Beck's original map was rejected in 1931 but later London Transport came round to the idea, as Beck persistently badgered them with revisions of his beloved diagram and they said "You had better sit down. We are going to give you a shock. We are going to print it" and the rest is history! Since then Beck's map has been as much of an icon of the London Undergrond as the Tube's logo (roundel) itself and is printed in millions each year. It also adorns a huge variety of merchandise such as socks, boxer shorts, umbrellas, mugs and even showwer curtains!

Watch this space for more on Mark and Max's talk.

; Posted by Annie Mole Wednesday, November 23, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon