The Great New York Subway Map by Emiliano Ponzi and MoMA
Each day as I take the subway down to Soho, throughout my travels I see tourists with a map in their hand or reading a map on the subway carts. Traveling through the city by subway is something easy and clear to do, but it wasn’t always like that. Currently, …
Each day as I take the subway down to Soho, throughout my travels I see tourists with a map in their hand or reading a map on the subway carts. Traveling through the city by subway is something easy and clear to do, but it wasn’t always like that. Currently, over 5,000 New York subway riders can get to their destination thanks to graphic design legend Massimo Vignelli.
For those who don’t know Vignelli; he’s the person who was in charge of transforming a nightmare of a navigation system that had been around for more than 60 years to something more effective. In 1972, he revolutionized the subway system in NY with a design that, to this day, resonates in both the transportation and design community. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has recently released a book narrating the story behind the 1972 NYC subway map.
In partnership with the New York City Transit Museum, MoMA published this book titled, The Great New York Subway Map. This book depicts the iconic journey that starts with the first phone call he received from the MTA to even explaining how his design career impacted the way he designed the map. A lot of interesting things are to be learned in this book written and illustrated by Emiliano Ponzi.
You’ll discover a lot of interesting things. Learning how he connected to the MTA and when they asked him to modernized the subway signage and wayfinding system is just one of them. Like most designs, he received critiques on how abstract it looked. However, the main goal was not to make the map visually appealing, but rather to create an easy and pleasant system to use. Vignelli paved the way to having an iconic wayfinding system that is recognizable throughout the whole world.
You can buy a copy of the book on Amazon.
Images courtesy of MoMA and Emiliano Ponzi