Sunday, November 25, 2007

Popular Culture
London Transport Portal
The tube map is the schematic diagram that represents the lines, stations, and zones of London's rapid transit rail system, the London Underground.
A schematic diagram rather than a map, it represents not geography but relations. It considerably distorts the actual relative positions of stations, but accurately represents their sequential and connective relations with each other along the lines and their placement within fare zones. The basic design concepts, especially that of mapping topologically rather than geographically, have been widely adopted for other network maps around the world.

The first underground line in London, the Metropolitan Railway opened in 1863. However, as different lines on the Underground controlled by different companies, no official unified map was produced until 1906, when Charles Tyson Yerkes unified the railways and operated them under a combined "Underground" brand.
Early Underground maps were laid out on a geographically-correct basis, and indeed at first had maps of the streets and other local features laid on top of them. by which time details such as streets had been removed.
The 1932 edition was the last geographically-based map to be published, before the much more familiar style of map took its place. However, the actual routes are shown as blue lines on the Transport for London bus maps.

Tube map Early maps
The first diagrammatic map of the Underground was designed by Harry Beck in 1933.

Beck's maps
Beck had by 1960 fallen out with the Underground's publicity officer, Harold Hutchinson. Hutchinson, though not a designer himself, drafted his own version of the Tube map in 1960; it removed the smoothed corners of Beck's design, lines were less straight and created some highly cramped areas (most notably, around Liverpool Street).

After Beck
Alterations have been made to the map over the years. Recent designs have incorporated changes to the network, such as the Docklands Light Railway and the Jubilee Line Extension. In addition, since 2002 the Underground ticket zones have been added, to better help passengers judge the cost of a journey. Nevertheless the map remains true to Beck's original scheme, and many other transport systems use schematic maps to represent their services, undoubtedly inspired by Beck. A facsimile of Beck's original design is on display on the southbound platform at his local station, Finchley Central. The map is currently maintained and updated by Alan Foale, of The LS Company.

The design has become so widely known that it is now instantly recognisable as representing London. It has been featured on T-shirts, postcards, and other memorabilia. In 2006 the design came second in a televised search for the most well known British Design Icon. published a design based on the tube map, purporting to show the relationships between musicians and musical genres in the 20th century. The map is discussed by its creator, Dorian Lynskey, on the Guardian's Culture vulture blog.
On January 11, 2007 Lord Adonis unveiled a depiction of the Tube Map featuring the names of successful schools and students at GCSE level, as part of the London Student Awards 2007.
David Booth's The Tate Gallery by Tube 1986 is one of a series of publicity posters for the Underground. His work showed the lines of the map squeezed out of tubes of paint and has since been used on the cover of the map itself.
In 2003, to coincide with the publication of a book, the London Transport Museum released a "World Metro Map" strongly based on the London diagram and approved by TfL. Technical aspects
The table below shows the changing use of colours since the first Beck map. The current colours are taken from the TfL Colour Standards guide, which defines the precise colours and also a colour naming scheme which is particular to TfL. Earlier maps were limited by the number of colours available that could be clearly distinguished in print. Improvements in colour printing technology have reduced this problem and the map has coped with the identification of new lines without great difficulty.
Service information is indicated by the format:

Solid colour – normal service
Outline colour – limited service
Alternating solid and outline colour – under construction or closed for renovation Line colours
An important symbol that Beck introduced was the 'tick' to indicate stations. This allowed stations to be placed closer together while retaining clarity, because the tick was only on the side of the line nearer the station name (ideally centrally placed, though the arrangement of lines did not always allow this).
From the start, interchange stations were given a special mark to indicate their importance, though its shape changed over the years. In addition, from 1960, marks were used to identify stations that offered convenient interchange with British Railways (now National Rail). The following shapes have been used:
Since 1970 the map has used the British Rail 'double arrow' beside the station name to indicate main-line interchanges. Where the main-line station has a different name from the Underground station that it connects with, since 1977 this has been shown in a box.
In recent years, some maps have marked stations offering step-free access suitable for wheelchair users with a blue circle containing a wheelchair symbol in white.
Some interchanges are more convenient than others and the map designers have repeatedly rearranged the layout of the map to try to indicate where the interchanges are more complex, such as by making the interchange circles more distant and linking them with thin black lines. Sometimes the need for simplicity overrides this goal; the Bakerloo/Northern Lines interchange at Charing Cross is not very convenient and passengers would be better off changing at Embankment, but the need to simplify the inner London area means that the map seems to indicate that Charing Cross is the easier interchange.

Empty circle (one for each line or station, where convenient) - standard default mark
Empty circle (one for each station) - 1938 experimental map
Empty diamond (one for each line) - early 1930s
Empty square - interchange with British Railways, 1960-1964
Circle with dot inside - interchange with British Rail, 1964-1970 Station marks
The map aims to make the complicated network of services easy to understand, but there are occasions when it might be useful to have more information about the services that operate on each line.
The District Line is the classic example; it is shown as one line on the map, but comprises services on the main route between Upminster and Ealing/Richmond/Wimbledon; between Edgware Road and Wimbledon; and the High Street Kensington to Olympia shuttle service. For most of its history the map has not distinguished these services, which could be misleading to an unfamiliar user. Recent maps have tried to tackle this problem by separating the different routes at Earl's Court.
Limited-service routes have sometimes been identified with hatched lines (see above), with some complications added to the map to show where peak-only services ran through to branches, such as that to Chesham on the Metropolitan Line. The number of routes with a limited service has declined in recent years as patronage recovered from its early 1980s' low point. As there are now fewer restrictions to show, and remaining ones are now mainly indicated in the accompanying text rather than by special line markings.

Lines or services
The tube map exists to help people navigate the Underground, and it has been questioned whether it should play a wider role in helping people navigate London itself. The question has been raised as to whether main-line railways should be shown on the map, in particular those in Inner London. The Underground has largely resisted adding additional services to the standard tube map, instead producing separate maps with different information:
The maps showing all the National Rail routes provide useful additional information at the expense of considerably increased complexity, as they contain almost 700 stations. This makes them harder to read, even when A3 size.

Standard tube map. Underground, DLR, zone boundaries and a few National Rail lines.
Central London map. A cropped and enlarged version of the standard map showing only the central area. Some versions show Thameslink and Northern City Line services.
Travelcard Zones map. Underground, DLR, National Rail, Tramlink and zone boundraries.
High Frequency Services map. The same as the Travelcard Zones map except that lines offering services at greater than 15-minute intervals are de-emphasised so that the more frequent routes can be seen easily.
London Connections map. Produced by the Association of Train Operating Companies, this provides the same information as TfL's Travelcard Zones map but extends a little further beyond zone 6. The National Rail lines are emphasised by thicker lines and coloured according to their Train Operating Company.
Tube Access Guide. Indicates stations with full or partial step-free access suitable for wheelchair users.
Bicycle map. Underground and DLR only. Shows in green sections of the network where bicycles are permitted.
Real Time Disruption map. Underground and DLR only. Interactive web-based map with disrupted lines and stations highlighted, others in light grey.
Interactive journey map. Underground and DLR only. Interactive web-based map that can be used to access information about each station (e.g. bus connections and disabled access).

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