A subway map of the future?
One man dares to imagine a easier way to make train routes intelligible.
Thu Nov 8 2007
[Ed note: Due to unforeseen legal issues, we cannot offer the 3-D map mentioned in this print article.]
You’re not the only hard-core New Yorker who still gets lost and feels like a jackass. Eddie Jabbour, co-owner of KICK Design, was born and bred in NYC; he lived here for decades before finally getting fed up with the MTA’s “ungraceful” subway map. So he made his own. “We’ve had the current one for 29 years and it serves its purpose, but it’s not friendly,” he says. “It doesn’t celebrate the city. My map is all about celebrating the city.”
His KICK Map, here in print for the first time ever, is a hybrid of approaches: diagrammatic (i.e., a work stylized to the point of abstraction) and topographic (which shows exactly what is above the surface). Below, Jabbour explains the design.
“The current MTA map hides the lines on one route,” says Jabbour. “At first, it looks simple. ‘Oh, nice!’ But then when you realize there’s five different lines on one trunk—that’s when you realize, This is nuts. The first IRT map in 1904 had multiple lines, so I added them back in. That way, you can scan your line quickly—you don’t have to read it. No New Yorker wants to be caught looking at the map for a full minute, peering over some old lady and her hat.”
“Williamsburg, on the current map, looks like a string of spaghetti. Anyone who lives there will recognize my Williamsburg as the real one.”
“If you live on the Upper West Side and are going to Bushwick, there’s not one train to get you there, and that’s where the MTA’s map fails. On my map, it’s extremely clear where you have to transfer; you’re dealing with three lines. One glance also tells you about off-peak hours and whether you can cross over and go in the opposite direction for free.”
“Every station dot has a number or letter. The words are also all horizontal, not diagonal. Both allow all that information to stay where it belongs—next to the station stop—so all that clutter is contained. In the old map, the info about Times Square goes all the way to Ninth Avenue. It’s crazy!”
For a full-blown version of the KICK Map, download a high-res PDF, or visit an exhibition at the Gallery Space @ Wagner in the Puck Building (295 Lafayette St at Jersey St, second floor) starting November 27.
KICK map © KICK DESIGN INC.