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.
Version 1 (June 1995) was created on a Macintosh Performa 575 using the drawing module of Claris Works 2, a pretty basic drawing program. The output was converted to 4 bits with Graphic Converter. Versions 2 (November 1995) and 3 (June 1997) continued the same process. The version numbers reflect some basic changes to the design that I can no longer remember.
The GIF versions were about 242 KB in size and expanded to a little over 3 MB of memory. 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 speeded downloading.
Version 4 (May 1999) was attempted with Apple Works on an iMac, but the software was less usable for creating diagrams. Lines that looked OK in Apple Works shifted randomly by a pixel in the output, causing many misalignments that destroyed the look of the map. I blew about 50 hours fiddling with it. I reverted to Claris Works, copied off the old Mac, and continued the same onto another iMac for 4.9 (July 2001). An OS update in 2005 prevented me from running ClarisWorks after 4.25 (September 2004), and 4.26 (May 2005) was kludged by editing pixels in the 4.25, which was unmaintainable. The diagram took a year off, during which volunteer Yuri Popov created 4.27 (February 2006). I was able to use an older Mac to make 4.28 (July 2006) and, after a long interval with no service changes, 4.29 (March 2009).
Version 5 (October 2010) was completely redrawn using Adobe Illustrator on a new iMac. It was a big job but the got a much improved appearance. This version was output to a PDF of about 272 KB, about the same as the GIF.
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.
Versions up to 4 used line width to service levels of full-time (6 px) and part-time (3 px) service and no regular service (1 px). The last category was dropped after version 4. Part-time service is now shown by a line with a dashed white line on it. A thinner line is used for one-way services. From the beginning I consider a service part-time if it does not run 7 days a week, a stricter rule than transit operators use on their maps, because I feel that weekend riders should be able to assume that full-time services are running then. I do not indicate routes with no service overnight.
Versions up to 4 showed mainline railways in black, with once again thick and thin lines for full-time and part-time. This was rightly critiqued as giving them too much visual weight considering the lower service they provide compared to subways. In version 5 I changed them to thinner grey lines, and used a grey station symbol to call out stations that do not have good service. The definition of that is a little loose, but hourly service seven days is good.
As of version 2, I used a 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. In version 5, I began using dashed lines with the color of the probable train service. Since the beginning I do not show proposed services. I require evidence of construction in progress before adding one of these. It is too easy to propose and not fund.
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, 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.
Airport light rail is shown since it is a form of rail line even if a very specialized one.
Changes from version 2 onward
- 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.
- 5.14. Jun 2013. Service restored to the Rockaways. Sandy outages on the subway are almost over— they just announced that the Montague St tunnel will need to be closed for a year for repairs (the tunnel from Whitehall St to Court St), date to be announced.
- 5.15. Aug 2013. Sandy strikes again. The Montague St Tunnel (R train) will be closed for over a year, for repairs. The Crosstown line (G train) will have some weekend closings caused by Sandy until December, but I don't revise for relatively short term changes, so that's not shown.
- 5.16. Mar 2014. Sandy once more. The PATH tubes to World Trade will be closed every weekend for repairs, so that section is shown as part-time. The date on LIRR to Grand Central is delayed again, either to 2021 (MTA estimate) or 2023 (federal estimate). Construction of this 3.5 mile route with one very large station began in 1969.
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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