Fear and Loathing on the New York subway

The continuing dispute over how to design the transit map

A talk by Peter Lloyd

6.30pm Thursday 5th June 2014 at The Gallery

The 110-year-old subway in New York - the largest and most complex system on the planet - challenges mapmakers with a tough problem of information design.

Two solutions have arisen: Massimo Vignelli's systematic modernism, and John Tauranac's pragmatic and eclectic anti-modernism. Vignelli's 'iconic' design flourished in the 1970s but was replaced by Tauranac's, which formed the basis for the map for the next thirty-five years.

In 2011, however, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority introduced an updated Vignelli map on its web site, and in 2014 published a pocket Vignelli map of lower Manhattan and New Jersey. After a generation of stability, two incommensurate cartographic products are being presented to passengers.

Peter's talk will outline the history of the map and explain the information design problems and solutions, updating the story since his book Vignelli: Transit Maps, based on archival research and interviews with the protagonists in the map debate, was published by RIT Press in 2012.


Peter is a freelance technical author who worked for three decades in software design. He continues to document the history of the New York subway map and the first sequel, Geography Strikes Back, is in preparation.


The Gallery, 75 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6EJ

Attending this event

Members are admitted free - to view our membership plans, click here

To buy a ticket to attend this event, costing £20 per place, click the 'Add to cart' button below


Member tweets

Who's Online

We have 272 guests and no members online

Contact Us

  • Sign Design Society,
    Flat 60,
    The Eye,
    Barrier Road,
    Chatham, Kent,
    ME4 4SD.
  • +44 (0)203 488 0774
Copyright © The Sign Design Society 2015