A classic New York City subway map has recently been re-issued in a limited edition run to raise money for charity. As chronicled at The Map Room and in today’s New York Times, the 1972 subway map by Italian designer Massimo Vignelli caused quite a stir in the Big Apple.
Previous subway maps had emphasized surface features such as parks and streets to help riders find their destinations and navigate the complex system. But as the system expanded, maps became cluttered and more confusing to read. Vignelli’s design marked a radical shift away from the realistic depiction of surface features. Vignelli’s map was more abstract, nearly eliminating surface features altogether. Trains ran in straight lines and only turned in 45- and 90-degree angles.
Vignelli’s map was both praised as a work of graphic design and critized as a poor navigational tool. Evan as abstract subway maps became common in other large metropolitan areas, New Yorkers had difficulty adjusting to the design. In 1979, the city finally relented and returned surface features to the map, where they remain to this day.
Now, in association with Men’s Vogue, Vignelli is releasing a limited run of 500 prints of his iconic subway map, including updates to reflect additions and changes to the system since the original publication. Interested cartophiles should hurry and purchase their Vignelli map