The Boston Rapid Transit Map: 1954

I came across this interesting map of the Boston rapid transit system via Greater Greater Washington.  Unlike later subway and rapid transit maps, this map from 1954 holds to a more realistic depiction of the surface area covered by the system.  In this case, the map is superbly detailed with miniature pictures of major Boston landmarks, and of the railway stations themselves.  Look closely and you’ll even notice tiny trains drawn onto the tracks. The railway map is over an outline of the Charles and Mystic Rivers and the Boston Harbor. 

As mentioned in an earlier post, later subway and transit maps compensated for the increased complexity of their systems by reverting to more abstract and unrealistic depictions of both their own networks and the territory they covered.  This map making methodology is still used today in the world’s more complicated transit systems, but this map shows how things used to be back in the day.

The legend suggests that this map used to be colored, but it still shows great detail even in black and white.  The map was created by the Richard F. Lufkin Company, which seems to have gone out of business (I can’t find any listings of them).

Click here or on the picture above for a full sized picture.


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Cartographia is a blog about how we use maps to represent the world around us, and how people interpret maps today and throughout history. Please feel free to send any questions, comments, or recommendations directly to me at

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