Transport for London
Transport for London

A Geographically Accurate Map of the London Underground

Transport for London
Transport for London

Designing a good transit map is more complicated than it looks. Consider iconic designer Massimo Vignelli’s 1972 map of the New York City subway: Designed to be easily read at a glance, the map distorted above-ground geography to present a linear, simplified look at rail connections and destinations. And people hated it. Vignelli’s map was replaced with a more geographically accurate map in 1979, one that was closer to what people imagined the city looked like, but harder to read

London’s transit mapping evolution has taken the opposite approach. Transport for London’s map of the London Underground [PDF] is a sleek, minimalist diagram of where the city’s subways intersect—and it looks nothing like the city itself. The Thames ends up looking like a game of Snake

In response to a Freedom of Information request from a man named James Burbage, TfL created a new version of its London Underground map that shows exactly where the Tube runs, and how far apart the stops are. Unlike the current map, it shows where the subway runs in relation to parks and bodies of water. Now Londoners can see exactly how far across the city they travel each day (and how far it would really be to walk through the subway tunnels, as one architecture firm has proposed for the Circle Line, seen above in yellow).

This is what the city center looks like from a geographically accurate perspective: 

The original TfL map may be easier for planning a subway trip, especially for out-of-town visitors who might get lost in the tangled rail lines that wind through the cluttered new map, but the geographically accurate version has the advantage of showing where the subway runs in relation to above-ground destinations—providing a whole new perspective for Tube veterans and newbies alike.

See the full map here

[h/t: The Telegraph]

All images from Transport for London

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

This Just In
What Do You Get the Person Who Has Everything? Perhaps a German Village for Less Than $150,000

Looking for a gift for the world traveler who has everything? If cost isn't an issue and they're longing for a quiet country home, Fortune reports that an entire village in East Germany is up for sale. The tiny hamlet of Alwine, in Germany's Brandenburg region, is going up for auction on Saturday, December 9. Opening bids begin at $147,230.

Alwine has around one dozen buildings and 20 full-time residents, most of them elderly. It was once owned by a neighboring coal plant, which shut down in 1991, soon after East Germany reunited with West Germany. Many residents left after that. Between 1990 and 2015, the regional population fell by 15 percent, according to The Local.


In 2000, a private investor purchased the decaying hamlet for just one Deutsche Mark (the currency used before the euro). But its decline continued, and now it's up for grabs once more—this time around, for a much-higher price.

Andreas Claus, the mayor of the district surrounding Alwine, wasn't informed of the village's sale until he heard about it in the news, according to The Local. While no local residents plan to purchase their hometown, Claus says he's open to fostering dialogue with the buyer, with hopes of eventually revitalizing the local community.

[h/t Fortune]


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