Mapping the history of the subway map

This web site is part of a long-term project to document the history of the map of the New York City subway system. As a blog, it represents facets of the history as research-in-progress. The endpoint is a set of books that will provided a readable and well-researched narrative of the historical development of the map from the first published planning maps in 1875, through the subway’s opening in 1904, its multiple forms (IRT, BMT, IND) until Unification in 1940, its Diagram Decades from 1958 to 1978, and its long history of stability since then.

A first volume was published by Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Press in 2012: Vignelli: Transit Maps, on the creation of the famous diagrammatic map of 1972. A sequence of self-published books is now in hand, beginning with Volume 6, Geography Bites Back, on the work of the Tauranac Committee leading to the geographic map of 1979.

I have been collecting subway maps from around the world since the mid-1990s, and working on this project since 2004. Based in Oxford, England, I work professionally as a software developer. The project is self-funded and I have no formal connection with the MTA or any museums or archives. Any opinions expressed are my own.

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