Mark Ovenden, “Transit Maps of the World”

This might win the prize for nerdiest book I’ve ever read.

THE LOWDOWN
Published: 2007, 144 pp.
Obtained via: Library
Date started: 2.6.08
Date finished: 2.11.08
What I liked: This book is a collection of maps for practically every metro system in the world. (Metro being defined as mostly underground urban public transportation.) It compares historical and modern-day system maps and describes the evolution of each system. The book is divided into “zones” based on complexity and historical significance of the system. Insane.
What I didn’t like: Ovenden judges all the system maps against the gold standard: the landmark London tube map. I agree that the London tube map is iconic and a wonder of the design world, but judging the quality of a system map by whether it has standardized 45-degree angles and dodged geography for straightened-out paths says little about how effective the map is for locals and whether it’s good design. For example, the Mexico City map on page 60 breaks a lot of his “rules”—but it’s an absolutely charming map that is still totally useable.
Also, Ovenden remarks four times (by my count) how similar the system maps of Asian cities are to a Chinese/Japanese/Korean character. Yes, they are squiggly lines—but they don’t look that much like kanji.
What I learned: Moscow’s underground stations are a tourist attraction in their own right. A lot about map legibility.

Advertisements

2 comments

Got anything to add?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s