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kottke.org posts about subway

Mini Metro

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 13, 2014

Mini Metro is an upcoming game in the style of Sim City, except you’re only building subway lines.

Mini Metro is an upcoming minimalistic subway layout game. Your small city starts with only three unconnected stations. Your task is to draw routes between the stations to connect them with subway lines. Everything but the line layout is handled automatically; trains run along the lines as quickly as they can, and the commuters decide which trains to board and where to make transfers.

However the city is constantly growing, along with the transport needs of its population. How long can you keep the subway system running before it grinds to a halt?

Oh man, this is great fun for transportation nerds. Site says it’ll be out in “early 2014” for PC, Mac, Linux, iPad, and Android. You can play an early version on the site or d/l an alpha version for OS X, Windows, or Linux.

Update: A public transit planning consultant evaluates Mini Metro, which because of its simplicity, simulates the experience of transit network design quite well in some cases.

We have discovered the most realistic thing about Mini Metro: If you want to win, think of these “trains” as buses.

In real rail transit systems, you cannot simply abandon a rail line and build a new one — certainly not just to handle an overcrowding problem. But to do well in Mini Metro you must revise the network repeatedly, and the last phase of the game you’ll deploy lots of one-time-only temporary lines In fact, for best results, make sure you also have a spare tunnel, so that if you have to get a train quickly to a station on an island, you can build a temporary line to a destination across the water, deleting it after use.

To a rail engineer, all this is ridiculous, but to a transit network designer, it’s the game’s most realistic feature.

Build a subway line to run one train once, then tear it out? No, this is not how rail transit works, but it’s very much how buses work, and it’s good thing, too. That’s why buses provide a much better sandbox for network design thinking. When you build powerful networks with buses, mistakes cost thousands rather than billions, so they’re more likely to be repaired. Real-life transit networks do need to evolve, usually from radial beginnings to more gridlike structures.

(via @spavis)

Photographing the Tube

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 14, 2014

For the past 40 years, Bob Mazzer has been taking photographs of the London Underground and its passengers.

Bob Mazzer

Bob Mazzer

Circular NYC subway map

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 29, 2013

A very pretty but almost completely useless circular map of the NYC subway.

Radial NYC Subway Map

There’s a London Tube version too.

Anagram map of the London Underground

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 10, 2013

Otter Bends, Queer Spank, Frog Innard, and Lob Horn are some of the stations on the anagram map of the London Underground.

Anagram London Tube Map

The quickening pace of modern life?

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 20, 2013

Ah, the good old days, when people used to talk to each other in public rather than looking at their phones or listening to headphones all the time. Except that’s not been the case for awhile as XKCD demonstrates with a series of quotes from various publications dating back to 1871. This is from William Smith’s Morley: Ancient and Modern published in 1886.

With the advent of cheap newspapers and superior means of locomotion… the dreamy quiet old days are over… for men now live think and work at express speed. They have their Mercury or Post laid on their breakfast table in the early morning, and if they are too hurried to snatch from it the news during that meal, they carry it off, to be sulkily read as they travel… leaving them no time to talk with the friend who may share the compartment with them… the hurry and bustle of modern life… lacks the quiet and repose of the period when our forefathers, the day’s work done, took their ease…

In 1946, a young Stanley Kubrick worked as a photographer for Look magazine and took this shot of NYC subway commuters reading newspapers:

Kubrick Subway Newspapers

The more things change, etc. More of Kubrick’s subway photography can be found here.

The subways of North America

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 08, 2013

XKCD has linked all the subway systems of North America into one map. That South Ferry to San Juan submarine line is a hike.

We found our son in the subway

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 01, 2013

File this one under crying at work: a man finds a newborn on a subway platform and he and his partner adopt him and then blub blub blub, I’m sorry I have to go there’s something in both my eyes and my nose.

Three months later, Danny appeared in family court to give an account of finding the baby. Suddenly, the judge asked, “Would you be interested in adopting this baby?” The question stunned everyone in the courtroom, everyone except for Danny, who answered, simply, “Yes.”

“But I know it’s not that easy,” he said.

“Well, it can be,” assured the judge before barking off orders to commence with making him and, by extension, me, parents-to-be.

Radio’s circuits shaped like London tube map

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 13, 2012

There’s not a whole not more to this radio than what it looks like, but I will forever have a soft spot for things that mimic the London tube map.

London Tube Radio

Now, if it contained vacuum tubes or something…

The A train: the Amazon of New York City

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 10, 2012

In a photo slideshow with jazz accompaniment, narrator Adam Gopnik takes us on a short tour of NYC’s A train, which runs from the top of Manhattan all the way out to the beaches of Rockaway.

From Harlem and upper Manhattan to Brooklyn, Queens and the Atlantic Ocean - New York city’s A Line subway route covers over 30 miles, takes two hours to ride from end to end, and is the inspiration for one of jazz’s best known tunes.

Here — with archive images and vibrant present-day photographs from Melanie Burford — New Yorker columnist Adam Gopnik takes a ride on one of today’s A trains, and explores the communities living along the route.

(via @davehopton)

Kubrick rides the NYC subway

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 27, 2012

From the Museum of the City of New York, a collection of photos taken by Stanley Kubrick in 1946 of New York City subway passengers.

Kubrick NYC subway

The museum has in its collection more than 7200 photos taken by Kubrick of NYC while he worked as a photographer for Look Magazine. (via coudal)

Bruce Davidson, Subway

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 28, 2011

In an excerpt from the introduction to Subway, his collection of photographs of the NYC subway, Bruce Davidson recalls how he came to start taking photos on the subway in the 1980s.

As I went down the subway stairs, through the turnstile, and onto the darkened station platform, a sinking sense of fear gripped me. I grew alert, and looked around to see who might be standing by, waiting to attack. The subway was dangerous at any time of the day or night, and everyone who rode it knew this and was on guard at all times; a day didn’t go by without the newspapers reporting yet another hideous subway crime. Passengers on the platform looked at me, with my expensive camera around my neck, in a way that made me feel like a tourist-or a deranged person.

The NYC subway exits into a Brooklyn townhouse

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 22, 2011

Geoff Manaugh of BLDGBLOG took some photos yesterday of a curious townhouse in Brooklyn Heights.

Fake Subway Townhouse

Curious in that the facade is 100% NYC rowhouse but it’s actually a secret subway exit. Here it is one Google Maps.

Subway waltz

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 03, 2011

Two NYC subway trains dancing down the tunnels…what a charming little video.

(via ★leela)

NYC subway exits into buildings

posted by Jason Kottke   May 25, 2011

Noah Brier (and his commenters) are collecting NYC subway stations that open into buildings…like the BC stop that exits right into the Museum of Natural History.

Graffiti is a crime

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 28, 2011

From the NYC transit authority, a 1988 video about the consequences of painting graffiti in the subway.

Intense! (via ★vuokko)

Musical subway map

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 31, 2011

Alexander Chen made a version of the NYC subway map that plays music as the trains intersect routes.

At www.mta.me, Conductor turns the New York subway system into an interactive string instrument. Using the MTA’s actual subway schedule, the piece begins in realtime by spawning trains which departed in the last minute, then continues accelerating through a 24 hour loop. The visuals are based on Massimo Vignelli’s 1972 diagram.

Check out the full version; there are more details here. See also Isle of Tune. (via about 20 people on Twitter just now)

A tour of the abandoned Paris Metro

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 23, 2010

sleepycity has tons of photos of some old trains and abandoned Paris Metro stations and tunnels.

Old Paris Metro sign

(via @bldgblog)

The sweaty glass of the Tokyo subway

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 09, 2010

From photographer Michael Wolf — you might remember his Architecture of Density or 100x100 projects — a collection of photos of people pressed against fogged-up Tokyo subway windows.

Michael Wolf Tokyo

(via coudal)

The subway announcement lady

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 15, 2010

A profile of the woman who does the announcements — the ones you can actually understand — for the NYC subway. Since becoming “the voice”, she hasn’t actually ridden the subway.

On the telephone, her voice does not have quite as much oomph as it does on the subway. “My husband says he doesn’t hear the nice voice as often as he’d like,” she said.

But the nice voice cannot be disobeyed. Before 9/11, when they lived in Louisville, Ky., he drove to the airport to pick up her. He was early. He parked right in front of the terminal. He could hear her on the public-address system, saying no one was supposed to park there.

A traffic officer came along and said he had to follow the voice’s orders.

Her husband said, “I don’t listen to that voice at home; I’m not going to listen to it here.”

NYC subway photos, 1917-present

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 22, 2010

Slideshow of almost 100 years of photography of the NYC subway system by the NY Times.

NYC Subway 1940

The caption for the photo above reads:

1940: In a view north from 106th Street, only the supports of the old Ninth Avenue elevated line remained as the push to go underground continued.

NYC transportation event

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 14, 2010

This week’s Geeking Out, Gelf Magazine’s nerdy event series, is all about NYC transportation.

The evening will feature Benjamin Kabak (Gelf interview), author of popular subway blog Second Avenue Sagas discussing the MTA; Sharon Zukin (Gelf interview), author of Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places, on gentrification; and Charles Komanoff (Gelf interview), creator of the Balanced Transportation Analyzer, discussing how to optimize the city’s transportation network.

Free. Sept 16, 7:30p in Dumbo. Click through for more details.

Job opening: NYC transit map designer

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 09, 2010

The MTA in NYC is looking for someone to keep their transit maps fresh.

As part of a two-person team, the incumbent of this position is responsible for the design and timely updating of NYCT’s printed and online map products, including the extensive service schedule panels on the reverse side of all “pocket” bus maps; researching and responding to map design and information issues; identifying, researching, recommending, and adapting evolving map drawing and production technologies; adapting Transit’s map products to the agency website and providing modified products for third party publications; advising on or producing custom maps for major agency initiatives and proposals; advising and assisting on other product design, graphics technology procurements and related staff training for all graphics services in Marketing and Service Information.

This has to be some kottke.org reader’s dream job…go get it!

Redesigning the NYC subway map

posted by Aaron Cohen   Aug 04, 2010

In a long excerpt from O’Reilly’s recent book “Beautiful Visualization”, KickMap designer Eddie Jabbour talks about his process for redesigning the NYC Subway map.

While I felt that it was important to show certain shapes aboveground, I also felt that it was important to leave out certain pieces of belowground information. There are several places where the subway tunnels cross and overlap each other beneath the surface. This may be important information for city workers or utility companies trying to make repairs, but for the average commuter, showing these interactions just creates visual noise. I tried to reduce that noise by cleanly separating the lines on the map so they don’t overlap. Consider the different depictions of the 4 line and the 5 line in the Bronx; sure, the MTA’s paths may be accurate, but they’re also confusing, and riders don’t really need to see those particular details to understand where they’re going.

(Via @TheJames)

Making of the Moscow Metro map

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 17, 2010

A lovely visual look at redesigning the map for the Moscow Metro. (thx, matt)

New NYC subway map

posted by Jason Kottke   May 28, 2010

Next month, the MTA will release a new subway map. The NY Times has a look at the new map.

The new subway map makes Manhattan even bigger, reduces Staten Island and continues to buck the trend of the angular maps once used here and still preferred in many other major cities. Detailed information on bus connections that was added in 1998 has been considerably shortened.

Manhattan will be shown on the map as nearly twice as wide as in real life. Cut back on the chili-cheese fries, my friend!

Harry Beck’s US Interstate map

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 12, 2009

Map of the US Interstate system in the style of the London Tube map.

US Interstate Tube map

Go large for detail. (via coudal)

A three-year-old’s view of the NYC subway

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 22, 2009

Simple NYC subway map

This was my present to my nephew for his 3rd birthday. He loves, loves, loves the subway so my sister asked me if I could make a custom map with all the places that mean something to him on the poster.

Best viewed a bit large.

Update: There’s been a bit of confusion…this is not something that I made. I don’t even have a nephew.

Update: The subway map was made by Erin Jang.

Subway yearbook?

posted by Ainsley Drew   Sep 28, 2009

A recent Improv Everywhere endeavor had a photo booth set up in a New York subway car. They told riders that the MTA had hired them to take photographs of every person who used the subway, and that there would be a yearbook at the end of the year. The result was one interesting, if misinformed, class.

What if you got rid of the NYC subway?

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 10, 2009

You’d need the equivalent of a 228-lane Brooklyn Bridge to move all those people into Manhattan during Monday morning rush hour.

At best, it would take 167 inbound lanes, or 84 copies of the Queens Midtown Tunnel, to carry what the NYC Subway carries over 22 inbound tracks through 12 tunnels and 2 (partial) bridges. At worst, 200 new copies of 5th Avenue. Somewhere in the middle would be 67 West Side Highways or 76 Brooklyn Bridges. And this neglects the Long Island Railroad, Metro North, NJ Transit, and PATH systems entirely.

Kinda puts the subway in perspective, doesn’t it? And don’t miss the map at the bottom that shows the size of the parking lots needed for all those cars.

NY transit and traffic status on Twitter

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 27, 2009

Get traffic and transit updates for NY on Twitter…including NYC subway lines! There are separate accounts for the 123, ACE, JMZ, 456, BDFV, LS, 7, G, and NQRW. (via @bobulate)

Update: @NYCtrains also does NYC subway updates. (thx, pierre)