I've become aware that people are using this map to navigate the subway system. I actually designed it to test out whether the London Transport Diagram's design could be applied to a New York subway diagram. In some ways, it doesn't work. The London diagram can be printed into a small pocket leaflet and still be legible and clear. Although good printing would permit a smaller version than is possible on a computer screen, this New York diagram still cannot be reduced to the same extent. I don't think much more information can be omitted, which means the New York system is just more complicated.
My design goals were to present a simple, clear diagram of all the passenger railroads in the city and just beyond, including all of the subway, PATH, the Newark subway, and the Staten Island Railway, and showing their relation to the Long Island Rail Road, Metro North, New Jersey Transit and Amtrak. I chose to use a very limited set of symbols to portray a very limited set of data, namely just the railroads and stations, station names, waterways. Use of a diagram allows enlarging of tangled areas to show the routings operated, making this more clear than a scale map.
As of version 4, I am now showing train marker letters and numbers. My idea had been that details of train routings are the next level of detail down from a general diagram of the area, but this has been the most requested feature, so I have decided to design with them. At the same time I have dropped closed stations.
Since I keep updating the diagram, it actually should be usable. I strongly recommend riders also obtain the official subway map, which was quite a good piece of design as well. The modified version of January 1998 is less satisfying than the one used for the past several years, which in my opinion was the best official map ever.
The complete Subway Map is 242 K in size and requires a little over 3 megs of memory to expand. The terrific compression was made possible by limiting the map to 16 solid colors and storing it into a 4-bit GIF file. When I first made this map available on the web in June 1995, I was concerned about the memory required to view it, but within two years that amount of memory was common! The compression still speeds downloading.
Versions 1 to 3 were created on a Macintosh Performa 575 using the drawing module of Claris Works 2, a pretty basic drawing program. It was converted to GIF with Graphic Converter.
Version 4 is a story. I converted the map to Apple Works 5, the updated version of Claris Works, and began working on an iMac. What must be fifty or more hours of manipulating this diagram and another still in production have convinced me that Apple Works is just not as good as Claris Works for making subway diagrams. Most seriously, it shifts the position of lines as it converts in and out of its own format, even making straight lines crooked. So version 4.0 was actually a conversion back to Claris Works, and the last of the problems were fixed by 4.2.
Version 4.9 is still Claris Works, now on a Flower Power iMac.
As of version 4.26, I can no longer run Claris Works. Apple Works does not save a stable image to jpg or png or tiff formats: lines that look OK in Apple Works shift randomly by a pixel in the output, causing many misalignments that destroy the look of the map. The last version 4.26 was created by editing pixels of the GIF file of 4.25 with Graphic Converter. This cannot continue.
As of version 4.28, I have been able to run Claris Works again. In the meantime I have noticed another problem with more modern software that I have not yet fixed. OS X seems very determined to anti-alias fonts and colors, and until I find a way to stop it, I cannot make a 4-bit GIF. Version 4.26 was 446 K as a result instead of 242. By reverting to ancient software I have been able to get the cleaner style once again.
Please don't ask me for printed copies. I don't have any, not even for myself. I always planned to put it on the web, I work on it only on screen, and I was happy when it looked good at 72 dot-per-inch screen display. It does not look better at finer resolution, it looks worse. There's no anti-aliasing (see above), a lot of lines don't really line up, some are not really straight, and Claris Works (thanks to the Quickdraw pen model, I'm told) cannot even make diagonal lines that are the same width as horizontal and vertical!
Here's how you can try printing it. Using your browser's "save" command, save it (as "source" not "text") to a GIF file. Then open it with whatever software you have that can open GIF files, and use its print command. I recommend printing it at 50% size. The 100% size is for legibility on screen. On paper it is quite legible at 50%.
Transfer across platform, shown by a large circle across two lines, is distinguished from other transfers requiring stairs or passageway, shown by two connected circles. Thus for example, the careful reader will see that transfer between express and local on the Red line is across the platform at Times Square but not at Pennsylvania station.
Express and local subway service is shown by separate lines for the track pairs. This graphic representation eliminates the need for fussy station symbols that can be somewhat difficult to interpret on other maps. The reader can easily see that some trains bypass the local stations.
Train service is suggested by three widths of line for full-time service, part-time service, and no regular service. I consider part-time service as any service that does not run 7 days a week, and that weekend riders should be able to assume that full-time services are running then. The exception to this is midnight services, which are simply not depicted: a few services shown as fulltime actually do not run during the wee hours, and a very few tracks shown with the "no regular service" line come into use at that time.
As of version 2, I used the light grey color for lines under construction. These are "ghost" lines that exist to some extent even though they cannot be used for train service.
Where lines cross, the one shown as crossing over really is the one that crosses over-- for those who care! The reason I show the track with no regular service is that most of it does see service from time to time during construction work, so that it seems useful to have it shown where it could be referenced for those routings.
Ferries are shown mainly because they relate to the rail system, principally the Staten Island Ferry as the only scheduled link between the Staten Island railway and the city. I know there are more ferries than shown. Most of them run only on weekdays, so it would be misleading to put them on the diagram without some further differentiation. Ferry terminals are shown as black dots even if no route is shown.
Airport light rail is shown since it is a form of rail line even if a very specialized one.
Changes from version 2 onward
For version 2.0, the changes in the data itself reflect subway route changes of 12 November 1995. The Manhattan Bridge north side is back in service, so pre-May patterns are partly restored on the 6th Ave and Broadway lines. Some of the other changes: Broadway N now runs to Coney Island again; Lexington 5 no longer goes to 241st St; Eastern J Z skip Bowery whenever M is running; Eastern skipstop J Z all trains stop at Alabama Ave. Routes under construction at 2.0 were: the subway connection from 21st St/Queensbridge into the Queens Boulevard line (Long Island City), the NJ Transit "Midtown Direct" connection, and the funded Phase 1 of the Waterfront light rail line (Hoboken, Jersey City, Bayonne), and of course the endless work on the old Manhattan Bridge tracks.
Version 2.1 has Dean Street subway station closed (Franklin shuttle) and minor touch-ups.
Version 2.2 changes the NJ Transit "Midtown Direct" connection to an operating line, and adds the NJ Transit "Secaucus Transfer" station as under construction. The NJ Transit lines out of Hoboken have been shifted for design reasons.
Version 2.3 changes the G north-east of Court Square to parttime. Most curves on the suburban railroads are eased for design reasons. Stations "8 Ave" and "Fort Hamilton Pkwy" on the N line are now in the correct order-- oops! Thin line on the A near Lefferts Blvd is corrected.
Version 3 introduces a larger typeface and larger radius curves in many parts of the map. The larger typeface caused some minor shifting of lines in many places. Southern Brooklyn is a little larger now, for looks.
Version 3.0: The Waterfront Light Rail is now the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail (I should have fixed that a few versions ago). G now ends fulltime at Court Square and continues part-time north of there, as construction continues on the 63d St connection. 7 now has express service all the way once again.
Version 3.1: N Sea Beach express track is finally shown. 168th St 1/9 is closed for 2 months. A minor upgrade also called 3.1 shows 168th St as reopened..
Version 3.2: All 8th Ave to Washington Heights, all 6th Ave to Concourse. Lenox construction changes 7th Ave service and affects Lexington service. LIRR Montauk Line (in Queens) stations close. 63d St changes to a shuttle for now.
Version 3.3: Seventh Ave construction. Franklin shuttle construction.
Version 3.4: Seventh Ave back to normal. Airport monorail and guideway lines. More ferries (still fulltime ones only).
Version 4 introduced train markers, and the new number reflects the first changes in software and hardware used to produce it. Lines under construction nearing completion now get projected opening dates.
Version 4.0: The Williamsburgh Bridge is closed for 6 months, so the BMT Eastern (brown) line is cut in two. Park Place station is also closed for 6 months. The 63d St line is not yet back to normal.
Version 4.1: Sixth Ave service to 63d St is shown, actually resuming ten days after I put up this version. Eighth Ave line service in Brooklyn is now correctly shown with a fulltime express (while the Williamsburgh Bridge is out). Many small touchups of software damage.
Version 4.2: Williamsburgh Bridge is open. Larger circles for stations.
Versions 4.3,4.4,4.5: see below.
Version 4.9: The Manhattan Bridge changes required many small moves of lines and text and train marker circles, and one large one. The map was split south of 34 St and pushed apart, to make some room for necessary lettering, and that forced changes across the map.
Version 4.10: Hudson County was redrawn to improve how the Hudson Bergen Light Rail looks.
Version 4.11: The sad collection of changes following the World Trade Center disaster of 11 September 2001. Done quickly-- a few line crossings have the wrong line over/under. Details expected to change are where the ferries go, and stations closed but on open lines.
Version 4.12: Newark Airport is open. Some detail around the closed areas in lower Manhattan has been corrected. Chambers St (8th Ave) reopened.
Version 4.14: New Jersey ferries updated showing changes since version 4.10. N cut back to 86 St until 2005. Opening of Secaucus restated to "2003?". Mainline routes to Staten Island baseball stadium and Belmont Park racetrack reclassed to "no regular service" now defined to include these seasonal runs.
- 1.0 June 1995. First edition showing generalized service.
- 1.1 June 1995. Revised First showing correct service while construction was underway, May to November.
- 2.0 November 1995. Design changes, and service changes of November.
- 2.1 January 1996. Revised Second, with various touch-ups.
- 2.2 June 1996. Revised Second, with a few updates. Central and Half-size maps are still 2.1.
- 2.3 April 1997. Revised. Central and Half-size are still 2.1.
- 3.0 June 1997. Design changes. New Central, no more Half-size.
- 3.1 July 1997. Minor revisions for service changes.
- 3.2 March 1998. Enlarged, showing more suburban areas. Several important service changes shown.
- 3.3 July 1998. Filled in water area. Service changes.
- 3.4 October 1998. Service changes. Design changes: airports, ferries.
- 4.0 May 1999. Train markers. Font change. No closed stations.
- 4.1 May 1999. Revised for corrections, updates, software damage.
- 4.2 Sep 1999. Slightly revised train service. Larger station circles.
- 4.3 Nov 1999. Franklin shuttle open.
- 4.4 1999. unreleased.
- 4.5 Apr 2000. Hudson-Bergen Light Rail open.
- 4.6 unreleased. Changes in 2 and 5 Bronx express service, announced but not done.
- 4.7 Nov 2000. Hudson-Bergen Light Rail extended. Details on Newark Subway extension under construction.
- 4.8 Jan 2001. 63 St connection finished (but no regular service).
- 4.9 Jul 2001. Manhattan Bridge changes.
- 4.10 Jul 2001. Correct errors in Hudson ferries and add Hudson Bergen Light Rail construction.
- 4.11 Oct 2001. World Trade Center changes.
- 4.12 Oct 2001. Newark Airport station open. Fixed WTC changes.
- 4.13 Oct 2001. Undo some WTC changes: N R J M Z back to normal.
- 4.14 Nov 2001. Ferry changes. N cut back. 63 St tunnel open to regular service, finally.
- 4.15 Dec 2001. V train begins.
- 4.16 Feb 2002. E to ex-WTC. Newark shown as part-time because it has had no weekend service for over a year. Revised construction dates; Hudson Bergen u/c to Tonnelle Ave.
- 4.17 Jun 2002. Newark City subway finally extended and full-time.
- 4.18 Sep 2002. Seventh Ave subway back to South Ferry; Cortlandt St N R back; open Hudson-Bergen Light Rail to Hoboken; open NJT Montclair connection and close old line; subway lines at Coney Island under construction. Redesign at Newark.
- 4.19 Apr 2003. Union station on NJT; Newark Subway extension under construction; revised ferries.
- 4.20 Jun 2003. Exchange Place reopens. Ferries simplified.
- 4.21 Aug 2003. Secaucus partly open. Harmon Cove closed. 191 St closed till Jan 1 2004. Better service on NJT Main and Bergen lines.
- 4.22 Nov 2003. World Trade Center PATH reopens. HBLR to 22 St.
- 4.23 Dec 2003. JFK Airtrain finally opens. Secaucus opens.
- 4.24 Feb 2004. Subway changes related to the Manhattan Bridge reopening.
- 4.25 Sep 2004. Hudson-Bergen extended; subways open to Stillwell Ave.
- 4.26 May 2005. Stillwell Ave completely open; no more 9 train.
- 4.27 Feb 2006. Special edition by Yuri Popov during the Subway Diagram's sabbatical year. Hudson-Bergen extended to Tonnelle Ave.
- 4.28 Jul 2006. Newark branch to Broad St open. Many ferries taken out since they are now weekdays only. Amtrak Hell Gate Route is now hourly (or just about).
- 4.29 Mar 2009. First change in 2 years 9 months. New South Ferry station.
- 5.0 Oct 2010. Completely re-drawn using Illustrator. Shows subway service changes (V and part of M combined as M, no Nassau St service to southern Brooklyn), and cutbacks on Hudson Bergen (no weekend service Tonnelle Ave - Hoboken) and Long Island (no weekend service to West Hempstead).
- 5.01. Fix two typos.
- 5.02. Add 14th St Line to legend, duh. Add the subway letters and numbers.
- 5.03. Removed the letters and numbers. New transfer at Jay St Metro Tech. A few minor changes here and there.
- 5.04. Re-drew part of downtown Brooklyn to improve appearance, requiring changes to the right of that point. Especially around Atlantic Terminal, and Franklin Shuttle, and East New York area. Changes extend to Jamaica.
- 5.05. Hudson-Bergen Light Rail is open to 8th St.
- 5.06. Same as 5.05 but with subway letters and numbers, and identifying mainline rail lines too.
- 5.07. Show that 5 to 241st is 1-way. Show alternate paths of E in Forest Hills. Small changes to alignments and name placements.
- 5.08. Remove Aqueduct Racetrack station. Fix path of 5 at East 180th St. Add old street names to some Queens stations that still show them.
- 5.09. Jun 2011. Transfer open at Court Sq, and name change. Note part-time chords on PATH, which should have been done in 5.0.
- 5.10. Dec 2011. Put back Aqueduct Racetrack. Added East River ferry. Some color adjustments.
- 5.11. Jan 2012. Express service is back on the Brighton Beach line; should have been done in 5.10.
- 5.12. Nov 2012. Changed expected opening years for subway and LIRR projects. The temporary closings for storm Sandy recovery are not showm, except the Rockaway line, which will be out for many months.
- 5.12 (2). Dec 2012. Showing also closed lines that will be out until some time in 2013: Hoboken (PATH), South Ferry, Nassau St, Montague St tunnel.
- 5.12 (3). Dec 2012. Hoboken (PATH) opened after all.
- 5.12 (4). Dec 2012. Montague St tunnel (N R) and Nassau St (J) opened.
- 5.12 (5). Jan 2013. PATH back to normal. South Ferry now expected to take 3 years (!) to reopen, called 2015 on the map.
- 5.13. Apr 2013. They restored old South Ferry and opened it.
I'm happy to hear from people about the map. Please direct comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for viewing!
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