New York Subway Maps and Colour

Making subway maps is more than just choosing between Beck-style diagrams and geographically accurate maps, or something in between; as with any good map design, colour choice matters too. Yale Daily News tells the story of alumnus R. Raleigh D’Adamo, who in 1964 was one of three winners of a contest to redesign the map of New York’s subway system.

D’Adamo said he noted then that London used eight colors to represent eight transit lines and Paris used eight to represent 15, but New York had for years used only three colors to represent 34 transit lines.
“Maps of New York subways are trying to make too few colors do too much work,” D’Adamo said in his winning entry.
These three colors represented three previously separate subway systems that were unified in 1940. D’Adamo said by 1964, the colors were unnecessary because the divisions they represented were no longer relevant.
D’Adamo added four more colors and tweaked other aspects of the existing subway map, leaving a map system that has remained virtually unchanged since its original implementation, he said.

See previous entry: New York Subway Maps.