Saturday, 18 May 2013

Mapping the Underground

The Tube map is a schematic transit map of the lines and stations of London's public transit railway systems, namely the London Underground, Docklands Light Railway and London Overground. The latest map includes the relatively new Emirates Air Line, London's cable car.

Back in 1908, it was easy enough to fit the whole Underground network onto a geographically accurate map with streets superimposed on it, but by 1933 it had become increasingly difficult due to railway expansions into the suburbs. The following map is one of London Underground's oldest.

London's transit map in 1908

The first diagrammatic map of London's transit network was designed by Harry Beck in 1931. Harry Beck was a London Underground employee who devised a simplified map, consisting of stations, straight line segments connecting them, and the River Thames. The map was tentatively introduced to the public in a small pamphlet in 1933 and it immediately became popular. London Underground has used topological maps to illustrate the network ever since.

London's transit map in 1937

London's transit map in 1945

London's transit map in 1951

London's transit map in 1960

London's transit map in 1977

London's transit map in 1987

London's transit map in 1999

London's transit map in 2012

Did you know?
London Underground was the world's first. It opened in January 1863 between Paddington and Farringdon using gas-lit wooden carriages hauled by steam locomotives.

London's 1st Trial Underground Railway, 1862


  1. History and map buffs should check out the history of London's Underground System (subway system to some in the US). It is the oldest underground railway in the world! We found it to be very modern and easy to use! It's a great way to get around the city!

  2. I never knew that London had an underground railway system! I think that this is a great way to get around and probably helps out a lot with traffic congestion on the upper levels of the city. Knowing my though, I would more than likely get lost trying to traverse through the transit system.

    I think that it is really neat that London has the World's oldest underground railway system! It goes to show what great lengths the people of London have gone through in order to make it one of the largest hubs of activity.

  3. London Underground[Subway in USA]Maps from 1908 through to 2012! All I can say is impressive as it is a very great way to help travellers to London. However, the real beauty of your article is the historical data as well as the way you have shown the progression of the underground system through the Maps you displayed.

    No wonder that London Railways is much more efficient than what we have in New York.