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Subway Maps as Popular Culture Artifacts

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Jonathan Tarr

on 3 June 2013

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Transcript of Subway Maps as Popular Culture Artifacts

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Marking Up Maps Making Infrastructure Invisible Semiotics Background What Does the Map
Conceal? Metro Maps as
Popular Culture Artifacts Definitions and
Format Map Design and Production The User Toward Conclusions Redesigning the Map Jonathan E. Tarr
Urban and Regional Planning Program
University of Michigan
December 13, 2010 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
3.0 Unported License Why Metro Maps?
Presentation format
Washington, DC as a model
Other cities Where can users get maps?
Brochures include not just maps but legends, landmarks, fare info, rules.
Other wayfinding signage Overhead signage in station.
By Flickr user Paulo Ordoveza. Outdoor signage.
By Flickr user Julie Lyn. Symbols stand in for the system's elements.
The map stands in for the metro system, and eventually for the entire city. Perspectives: Regular users, new users, metro employees London Underground maps first moved toward abstraction w/Harry Beck's 1931 maps: fewer features, distances between stops made to look equal, geography vastly simplified. Today, users with internet-capable phones can access maps online and thus have a personal version without having to find one in a station or on a train. Will this spell the eventual end of paper maps? When should a metro map be redesigned and reprinted? Only when new service comes online? When the public clamors for improvements? "Out of sight is out of mind, and underground is out of sight."
-Zachary Schrag DIY addition to posted map at National Airport.
Photo by Flickr user Jessamyn West. Grengs (2002) definition of transportation equity: An urban resident using the metro system can reach destinations throughout a city without suffering greater burdens of cost, time, or lack of access than residents in other neighborhoods. Does an abstracted map of a large system make it appear that a metro serves residents equally when it does not? Harvey Molotch (2000): "the dimension of time is a map absence"
Metro maps as a popular form of representation inside book covers and elsewhere
Maps stand in for entire metro system itself in addition to the city in question Kaika and Swyngedouw (2000): putting urban infrastructure underground alienates the urban resident from the workings of the city. Consulting the Washington Metro map at U Street Station. Photo by author. Maps by David Alpert,
Greater Greater Washington. Mayakovskaya Metro station, Moscow.
Photo by Flickr user BorisSV. Questions? All photos reused under Creative Commons licenses
Special thanks to Brian Barrera Washington-themed station icons proposed by Lance Wyman, 1968. Works Cited:
Grengs, Joe (2002). "Community-Based Planning as a Source of Political Change: The Transit Equity Movement of Los Angeles' Bus Riders Union." Journal of the American Planning Association, 68(2), 165-178.
Kaika, Maria and Erik Swyngedouw (2000). "Fetishizing the Modern City: The Phantasmagoria of Urban Technological Networks." International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 24.1. 120-138.
Molotch, Harvey. "Maps," in Steve Pile and Nigel Thrift, eds. "City A-Z: Urban Fragments." London: Routledge, 2000.
Schrag, Zachary. "The Great Society Subway: A History of the Washington Metro." Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006. Harry Beck's 1933 Underground Map.
From Flickr user columnfive. Not applicable for metros as people physically go underground to see its use firsthand. This is in contrast to water and sewer pipes, electricity and telecommunications cables, etc. Street map posted in U Street station.
Photo by author. ,
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