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Writing on Map Design: Underground Maps After Beck

The story of the London Underground Map in the hands of Henry Beck’s successors.

UMAB Book Front
The London Underground is one of the most important rail networks in the world. In a single day, as many people travel on it as the rest of Britain’s railways put together. To help them find their way, over 15,000,000 Underground maps are printed every year, descendants of Henry Beck’s groundbreaking design, first published in 1933.

The London Underground is unique, with its disorganised lines, far-reaching termini, and uneven station distances. These make a diagrammatic map essential but also make one hard to design. Good maps guide people in the right direction, contributing to the efficiency of the system. The worst will be hard to decipher, even sending people the wrong way. However, the best maps don’t just summarise

UMAB Book Back
the essentials of the world with clarity and precision, they are attractive in their own right.

This book picks up where Ken Garland completed his work (Mr Beck’s Underground Map, Capital Transport, 1996) to take the story of the map from when Henry Beck’s services were dispensed with for good, to the present day. Based upon extensive research of London Transport archives and at the London Transport Museum, this book surveys the major changes that have taken place over the years, and the reasoning and political background that led to them.

  • Coverage up to 2008, including the addition of London Overground to the map
  • 112 pages with full colour illustrations on throughout
  • Many original illustrations and previously unpublished maps
  • Lively thought-provoking commentary on the psychology and politics of map design
  • Chapters on London Connections maps, and London Underground maps from around the world

Table of Contents
  • Ch 1: Setting the scene (background)
  • Ch 2: A step backwards (1960-63)
  • Ch 3: Rescuing the Undergriound Map (1964-1972)
  • Ch 4: A long period of stability (1973-1987)
  • Ch 5: Breaking with the past (1988-2000)
  • Ch 6: Connecting London (All-London railways maps)
  • Ch 7: Through other eyes (independently produced Underground maps)
  • Ch 8: Mapping the new millenium (2000-2008)
  • Ch 9: Diagrammatic development (conclusions)

Publishing Details
Composite map
From page 102: A composite map showing, from left to right, the change in London Underground map style from the 1960s to the 2000s