The Bronx is up and the Battery’s still down

It’s that time again.

With massive cuts to transportation services here in NYC, the world famous subway map is getting an update. Within a few weeks, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will unveil its revamped version.

It’s amazing that while few NYers actually use the map, these updates never fail to generate discussion and oh-so-much controversy. Back in the 70s, designer Massimo Vignelli created an abstract version. Its reception was akin to the shot heard ‘round the world.

As the first major overhaul in nearly 10 years, and social networking being what it is, the discussion will now take place on a global scale.

In recent years, the maps have been criticized for contributing to information overload. In an effort to combat this and adopt the new service changes, the MTA has (supposedly):

  • improved contrast and readability,
  • added more graphics and less descriptive text, and
  • re-color coded service changes to compensate for the deleted lines. (This will be interesting since the color coding is permanently burned into NYers minds. Orange means Sixth Avenue, Red means Seventh. When that “M” train becomes orange…)

information design, graphic interpretation, information evolution, audience exchange, MTA, NYC subway map, city transit mapping

I prefer the Vignelli design. It was the bare essentials, presented beautifully. It’s very much like the metro maps of major cities worldwide. Informational, not representational. If billions of people can navigate large cities like Zurich, Cairo or London with their non-representational renderings, what’s up with New Yorkers?

Imagine the fun, when/if, the Second Avenue subway ever gets finished.

Maps: © Respective cities or regions.

One Response to “The Bronx is up and the Battery’s still down”

  1. lg Says:

    My preference is also the Vignelli design.

    Better redesigned maps than corporate naming of subway stops, as is happening in some major cities.

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