Despite Transport for London owning the copyright (and enforcing it) on Harry Beck’s iconic map of the London Underground network, people just won’t stop creating variants of the map. I may have written about these once, twice, three or even more times. But now, there’s a reworking of the Tube map to possibly end all Tube maps reworks.
At first sight, surely it’s yet another Tube map rework? Quirky and amusing line names in the right colours? Check. Station names that aren’t the current station names? Check. Faithfully reproducing the line layout? Check.
But then you dig deeper and discover that this isn’t just another Tube map rework, it’s a Tube map of Tube map reworks. Each station is assigned one of the other Tube map reworks that today’s Interwebs seem to be full of. Each line tries to categorise the Tube map reworks into some, albeit subjective, categorisation.
Thus Maxwell Robert’s curvy Tube map rework sits on a station in Edgware’s place called Curvy and on a line called Reworked, while the early pre-Beck era map sits where Ealing Broadway should be and at the interchange of the Metaphor and Official lines.
This is verging dangerously close to genius in my book and Esri’s Ken Field deserves some form of award for taking the time and effort to put this together. My one minor and extremely subjective niggle is that the explanatory text in the sidebar says click the stations to go to further details. My first exploratory foray into this map, clicking on the station names, yielded multiple popup dialog boxes saying No information available. Luckily Barry Rowlingson helpfully pointed out that what I should have been clicking on was the station interchange circles and the little offset lugs from each line and not the name itself.
Will this be the last word in Tube map pastiches? Probably not. Does it take a certain sort of mad cartographical endeavour to bring this all together? Probably. Has it wasted far too much of my time digging into the Tube maps I already know and showing me ones I didn’t? Maybe. Have I had masses of almost educational fun playing with this map? Absolutely.