14 November 2012

London: Underground Tube Map

You may not have heard of Harry Beck
but you have seen his most famous work

London Underground Tube Map

Not geographically accurate, but simplified for users

Unofficial map of  Zone 1
Geographically, more correct placement of stations

In 1931 this English engineering draftsman drew up 
a simplified diagram in his uncommissioned spare time
(he was later paid a nominal amount for the original concept)

London Underground was skeptical of his radical proposal at first
but Beck's map gained immediate popularity 
and is now a British design classic

Beck color coded the train lines (brown for Bakerloo, for example)
and continued to redesign the map until 1960

Check out this fun map I stumbled upon recently

London film location map
available via Transport for London

I think the lesson here is to go with your gut instinct
and if at first you don't succeed, try, try again

Nice job, Mr Beck

Sources: Wikipedia 1, 2, TfL


Vintage Sheet Addict said...

A few years ago the underground map was used lots in interior design, I think it's fabulous! I'm sure I would still get lost though! :)

greenthumb said...

I remember that map well.

Jenny Woolf said...

I was glad I just managed to catch the last day of the London Transport Museum's small but very fascinating exhibition on London Underground maps. There were some amazingly beautiful ones made in the 1900s. It's worth checking out some of their posters too. Thanks for a fun post Laura.

HippieGirl21 said...

Even if I ever got the chance to visit London, like that'll ever happen, I'd be the obvious tourist and ask how to get where

PURA VIDA said...

So amazing...vision and color!

Alyson (New England Living) said...

I love those maps! I remember there beautiful color well from when I lived there. So fabulous!

A little bit Country said...

I have a huge London underground map - it is on my to do list to get it framed - the colours are wonderful and remind me of my time there.

Minerva Black the shoppe keeping cat said...

It's lovely to find another American who appreciates this. When I moved here decades ago I loved it at once and thought of it as art. A lot of the old stations themselves are very interesting too, the tiles and lettering. Lovely post! x

beetree said...

Love it! Saw a framed one at the thrift the other day and stood ogling it for a while...didn't have a space for it, but wanted to bring it home! Totally reminded me of our time there. Thanks for the post, Laura! Love the Underground! Mind the gap! :)

Kirsteen said...

We spent a week in London a month ago and the tube map helped us get around perfectly. Not once did we get lost and taking 4 children around the entire city by public transport was a breeze!

I should say that the London public transport website is also super, super helpful and easy to use. We even braved a few bus journeys and found it wasn't half as scary as we thought. The bus map isn't quite as pretty though!

myletterstoemily said...

it truly is amazing. my daughter takes the
tube absolutely everywhere. she wouldn't
consider a taxi for the expense.

Sandra said...

Good post on the London Underground map, Laura! Every time I go to London, I take my map with me! It was interesting to read about Harry Beck!

Life in Transition said...

I LOVE the underground map, although I prefer to travel by bus :-)
Have you seen the London restaurant guide done as a tube map? It's a great idea and very funny - now updated to include Zone 2!

ann said...

On my first visit to London, I was so dumbfounded and scared to death of the underground and the map. I remember our tour guide handing us our 10 day tube pass and a map. A map. Like--what I am supposed to do with this?. I have lived far too long on the prairie; traveling underground just isn't natural. I had a panic attack on the tube one day when the train stopped. I thought I was going to pass out. OMG. I really felt much better when the tour guide said so casually, "don't worry. They are probably just checking out a bag someone left unattended for a bomb left by the IRA." Oh great. A bomb. Now didn't that make me feel better. By the way, that was June 2001 pre 9/11. Now, I can appreciate that colorful map and wish I one in hand making my way through the tunnels off on some grand adventure. To the Globe, please. I am glad that you enjoyed the film on Emily. This week we are watching Robert Frost. I so applaud you for nurturing your children's interest in English literature. They are so lucky to have the opportunity to study the history and the literature first hand. If you read Charles Dickens, take them to this house in London: <http://www.travelstripe.com/charles-dickens-house/. Cheers

Happy Homemaker UK said...

Wow, what a story! Yes, the Dicken's house is on the list :)

Happy Homemaker UK said...

I haven't - I'll have to check it out - thanks!!

Happy Homemaker UK said...

That museum has a great gift shop, doesn't it? I love maps and vintage posters :)

Sarah @ Modern Country Style said...

I have got a bit of an obsession with London maps - in fact, there's a new book out with lots of them in that is calling my name! I love that film version of the tube map - I'm going to take a look!


LindyLouMac in Italy said...

Of course I know the map well but I admit to not knowing the history, thanks for the lesson. :)

miss b said...

What an interesting post Being English I probably should have known that story!!)Just catching up on your recent posts after my holiday.

Gillian said...

It is a design classic, that map, isn't it? There is a great artwork called The Great Bear that plays with the map idea to track cultural icons and events through the ages - we used to have a copy hanging on our landing. I love the film map, what fun!