New York City Subway map

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Over the years, the New York City Subway map has undergone many changes. The current official transit maps of the New York City Subway are based on a 1979 design by Michael Hertz Associates.

The official June 2013 subway map


Early maps[edit]

Original maps for the privately opened Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT), which opened in 1904, showed subway routes as well as elevated routes.[1] However, IRT maps did not show Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT) routes; conversely, BMT maps didn't show IRT routes, even after the Dual Contracts between the IRT and BMT.[2] In fact, even in 1939, the year before the unification of the IRT, BMT, and Independent Subway System (IND) into one entity,[3] maps by private businesses were still being printed showing only the routes of one company.[2] The three subway companies also published their own maps, showing their own routes.[4] (Even in 1968, maps were published that neglected to show IRT routes.)[2]

Routes were not distinguished from each other on subway maps until 1958.[2] The first route maps were aesthetically pleasing, but had the perception of being more geographically inaccurate than the diagrams today. The design of the subway map by Massimo Vignelli, published by the MTA between 1972 and 1979, has since become recognized in design circles as a modern classic; however, the MTA deemed the map flawed due to its placement of geographical elements.[5][6]

In 1985, with the subway's elimination of double-lettered routes, the map also drastically changed; routes on the maps became less straight and more circular, a design that persists today. "Trunk lines" were rearranged to be one color, rather than the multicolored routes shown on the former Vignelli maps.[2]

Expansion maps[edit]

Two maps were drawn that showed routes for a never-built proposed expansion of the New York City Subway: one in 1929,[7] and one in 1939.[8]

Current map[edit]

The most recent maps of the subway system are not geographically accurate due to the complexity of the system (e.g., Manhattan being the smallest borough, but having the most services), but are known to help tourists navigate the city, as major city streets are shown alongside the subway stations serving them. However, the New York City Subway map is an anomaly among subway maps around the world, in that it shows city streets, parks, and neighborhoods juxtaposed among curved subway lines, whereas other subway maps (like London's Underground map) do not show such aboveground features and show subway lines as straight and at 45- or 90-degree angles.[9]

The newest edition of the subway map, which took effect on June 27, 2010, reflects the latest service changes and also makes Manhattan bigger and Staten Island smaller.[10][11] A late night-only version of the map was introduced on January 30, 2012.[12]

On September 16, 2011, the MTA introduced a Vignelli-style interactive subway map, called "The Weekender",[13] to its website.[14] As the title suggests,[15] it is a way for riders to get information about any planned work, from late Friday night to early Monday morning, that is going on either on a service(s) or station(s) of the subway during the weekend only.[16][17] On June 11, 2012, the MTA duplicated "The Weekender" site as a free mobile app download for iOS.[18][19] On November 29, 2012, an Android version of the app was released.[20]

There are several privately produced schematics which are available online or in published form, such as those by Hagstrom Map,[21] and by Kick Map.[22] Additionally, the New York City subway map has served as the subject of artistic endeavors. Among these are works by Fadeout Design and by Alexander Chen.[23][24]

There are other subway map spinoffs as well, such as New York City Subway track schematics.[25][26] Recently, an augmented reality subway map was made available for the subway.[27] Additionally, "On The Go! Travel Stations" are electronic maps located in stations that make use of touchscreen technology to help subway patrons plan trips.[28]

Service colors[edit]

The colors used to denote services in the current iteration of the subway map are as follows:

Primary Trunk line Color[29][30] Pantone[31] Hexadecimal Service bullets
IND Eighth Avenue Line Vivid blue PMS 286 #2850ad NYCS A NYCS C NYCS E
IND Sixth Avenue Line Bright orange PMS 165 #ff6319 NYCS B NYCS D NYCS F NYCS M
IND Crosstown Line Lime green PMS 376 #6cbe45 NYCS G
BMT Canarsie Line Light slate gray 50% black #a7a9ac NYCS L
BMT Nassau Street Line Terra cotta brown PMS 154 #996633 NYCS J NYCS Z
BMT Broadway Line Sunflower yellow PMS 116 #fccc0a NYCS N NYCS Q NYCS R
IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line Tomato red PMS 185 #ee352e NYCS 1 NYCS 2 NYCS 3
IRT Lexington Avenue Line Apple green PMS 355 #00933c NYCS 4 NYCS 5 NYCS 6 NYCS 6d
IRT Flushing Line Raspberry PMS Purple #b933ad NYCS 7 NYCS 7d
Shuttles Dark slate gray 70% black #808183 NYCS S


See also[edit]

  • Tube map – Map for the London Underground


  1. ^ "IRT Route Map". IRT Company. Retrieved May 28, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan (3 September 2013). "15 Subway Maps That Trace NYC's Transit History". Gizmodo. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  3. ^ "New York City Transit - History and Chronology". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved 14 May 2014. 
  4. ^ A History of New York City Subway Maps
  5. ^ "The (Mostly) True Story of Helvetica and the New York City Subway". AIGA. November 18, 2008. Retrieved February 4, 2009. 
  6. ^ Hogarty, Dave (August 3, 2007). "Michael Hertz, Designer of the NYC Subway Map". Gothamist. Retrieved July 4, 2009. 
  7. ^ Collis, Helen (2013-08-02). "Planning office maps from history reveal how metropolises might have looked | Mail Online". Retrieved 2014-05-28. 
  8. ^ "Dreaming of the Second System: Where the subways should go :: Second Ave. Sagas". Retrieved 2014-05-28. 
  9. ^ Mindlin, Alex (September 3, 2006). "Win, Lose, Draw: The Great Subway Map War". The New York Times. Retrieved May 28, 2014. 
  10. ^ New Subway Map is Here website. Retrieved June 18, 2010.
  11. ^ "Subway Map" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. September 2014. Retrieved 2014-10-07. 
  12. ^ "Late Night Subway Service" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. September 2014. Retrieved 2014-10-07. 
  13. ^ "Introducing The Weekender". (YouTube). September 30, 2011. Retrieved October 1, 2011. 
  14. ^ "The Weekender". Retrieved October 12, 2013. 
  15. ^ Grynbaum, Michael M. (September 15, 2011). "Aid for Baffled Weekend Subway Riders". The New York Times. Retrieved September 30, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Introducing 'The Weekender'". September 16, 2011. Retrieved September 18, 2011. 
  17. ^ "MTA Launches Interactive Online Map Ahead Of Difficult Weekend For Subways". NY1. September 16, 2011. Retrieved September 18, 2011. 
  18. ^ "MTA Releases "Weekender" Smartphone App". NY1. June 11, 2012. Retrieved June 13, 2012. 
  19. ^ "'The Weekender' Is Now an iPhone App". June 11, 2012. Retrieved June 13, 2012. 
  20. ^ "MTA's ‘Weekender' App Comes to Android Devices". November 29, 2012. Retrieved October 20, 2013. 
  21. ^ Subway Map Gets A Makeover NY1 local news channel. Retrieved May 28, 2010.
  22. ^ About the Kick Map
  23. ^ TRNSPRTNATION | New York City. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
  24. ^ Artist Turns New York Subway Map Into a Musical Instrument. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
  25. ^ New York City Trackbook
  26. ^ NYC Subway Track Maps
  27. ^ Tunnel Vision Uses Augmented Reality to Animate NYC Subway Maps
  28. ^ "MTA's First "On The Go" Touchscreen Unveiled In Bowling Green". NY1. September 19, 2011. Retrieved October 5, 2011. 
  29. ^ Official paint monikers since the colors were fixed in 1979: Grynbaum, Michael (May 10, 2010). "Take the Tomato 2 Stops to the Sunflower". New York Times, City Room Blog. Retrieved May 11, 2010. 
  30. ^ Official MTA video mentions "lime green" for the G line. "Subway Colors and Names". MTA Info. July 15, 2010. Retrieved August 5, 2010. 
  31. ^ MTA Developer Resources Download, CSV file

External links[edit]