Tubemap Mark Two
A geographically-accurate diagram of the London Underground system
The New London Tubemap project is alternative look at mapping the London Underground system with the stations positioned so they are more geographically accurate in relation to each other. It is intended to help people, particularly those unfamiliar with the city, to relate the underground system to London at street level.
This second version, building on the original first published in 2011, anticipates the opening of the Elizabeth Line (formally known as Crossrail) and the extension to the Northern Line. An on-going project, this will continue to develop as indeed the network it represents will.
A pocket-sized version of the map – A2 folding to A6 – is available to buy from the Lettering Arts Trust shop. The price includes a donation to the charity.
A poster-sized version of the original 2011 design is also available through the shop
I think it’s safe to say that I never set out to redesign the London Underground map. The original design, conceived by Harry Beck in 1932, is a classic and one of the best pieces of graphic design of the 20th Century; I hold it in very high regard.
However, friends of mine from outside of London commented that they found the current map hard to use and in particular found the disconnect between the map and London at street level confusing.
This sparked my curiosity as a designer, would it be possible to design something as clear as the Beck map but manage to be more geographically accurate? That ‘thought experiment’ eventually expanded to become the complete alternative map of the system published in 2011.
With the imminent arrival of Crossrail (or the Elizabeth Line as it will be known), I thought it was time to update my map. Looking back at the design I published nearly ten years beforehand, I found I really didn’t like it very much any more. It’s a bit busy, a bit fussy in some places, slightly chaotic in others. One comment on the original was from writer and actor Mark Gatiss who described it as ‘aesthetically frightful’, and revisiting it, I think he has a point.
One of the hardest things to do as a designer is to put an idea to one side and come up with something different but that is what I did. Instead of just adding the new line to the old design, I rebuilt the whole thing from scratch. This time as well as the geographical parameter, I concentrated on making a simpler, more elegant solution adopting the 45º lines of the classic Beck original.
It is work in progress and will continue to change and develop as indeed the network it represents will continue to do. I have said all along that this is not intended to replace the standard map based on Beck’s original design, it’s simply another way of looking at it.
A note about the place name origins map
The version of the map showing the origins of the names of places on the London Underground system is a collaboration with writer Mark Forsyth www.inkyfool.com
This etymological guide is an updated and expanded version of The Etymological Map of the London Underground first published by Mark in 2011. It has now been expanded to include London Overground, the Croydon Tramlink, and the Elizabeth Line.
© Mark Noad 2023