Sometime in June, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will release a newly redesigned version of the New York City subway map (as reported in The New York Times). As we’ve said before on this blog, New Yorkers are dedicated users of public transportation, and the subway system in particular is a key part of the city’s existence. Over the years, the map depicting New York’s subway system has gone through a number of different versions, reflecting both growth and change in the system itself, public opinion, and change in the dominant design ideas of the time.
One of the most controversial incarnations of the subway map was the stylized 1972 version designed by Massimo Vignelli, which showed the boroughs as plain white geometric shapes and the water as beige, and also lacked streets, parks and other topographic details. Criticized as a failure of the Modernist style, it was replaced in 1979 with a version that restored the blue water and the famous city street grid, among other features. The next revamping came in 1998 and resulted in the version used today: more cluttered, with more information (like free bus transfers and ferry connections to New Jersey).
The new subway map coming out later this month is meant to be more simplified and easier to use. Manhattan is wider in this version, while Staten Island is smaller; the map’s colors are brighter, especially the water, which is a more vibrant blue. Also, City Island in the Bronx, missing on some recent maps, has been restored (just in time for it to be featured in a recent movie, starring Andy Garcia).
For an interesting look at NYC subway maps over the years, and a comparison with the newest version, check out this interactive feature from the Times.