Saturday, 24 April 2010

Harry Beck and Subway maps

Beijing Metro

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Harry Beck's 1933 London Underground Map

Emptying my jacket pocket the other day I found a London Tube map and this set me thinking.

Firstly it made me think what a fantastic piece of design it is, one of the ultimate examples of form following function and secondly it made me think of how it has set the frorm for metro maps worldwide.

The London Tube map that is recognized across the world was the brainchild of Underground electrical draftsman, Harry Beck, who produced this imaginative and amazingly simple design back in 1933.

Beck based the map on the circuit diagrams he drew for his day job, stripping the huge Tube network down to basic forms.

The result was an instantly clear and comprehensible chart that would become an essential guide to London – and a template for transport maps all over the world.

Beck’s revolutionary design, with certain modifications and additions, survives to the present day and is set to serve London Underground and its millions of customers for many years to come as well as being one of the iconic pieces of graphic design of the 20th century.

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