Yet another unofficial New York Subway map redesign

[Read the post]

As a visitor, I think that as long as you have a general understanding about the system and as an adult, understand how to read a map and know where north, south, east and west are, you’re good. But the MTA app on your phone will update you on train/station info - in the big picture, WAY more important than any map, IMO.

1 Like

Never had any problem understanding the existing one when I’ve visited NYC.


For the life of me I can’t find a link to Moilanen’s uncropped, full-res map. Anyone fare better?

I dunno that, as a local, I’d give Tommi’s map to visiting out-of-towners. Multiple lines for the same “color” seems an oddly cluttering choice, especially when they start varying in thickness. Fine print isn’t aesthetic, but it’s functional - you know what stops where pretty clearly. The over-street geography is useful to any tourist who can’t figure out east/west/north/south for grid navigation (which way is 9th Ave?). Plus, getting lost is one of the most fun parts of exploring any (generally safe) city. So you wound up in Harlem instead of at the AMNH. Maybe you had to get turned around and re-orient yourself or ask a local. Maybe you were reminded that the world is complex and confusing and that human interaction can be your only source of mild clarity.

Welcome to New York City, and keep moving.


Tommi Moilanen’s design makes me angry. I’ll give him a pass for only living in NYC for a short time, but the lack of geographical features and other important information is rather jarring. None of the ferry lines are included: people might think they need to swim to Staten Island. The NYC subway map should assist pedestrians; how the hell am I supposed to find Prospect Park with this thing? Or what if I want to walk across the Manhattan Bridge…where is that? And where are the neighborhood names!? Unlike the official map, it doesn’t include the wheelchair accessibility of stations, nor anything about Select Bus Service transfers. Finally, the boroughs don’t need their names to be that huge. That’s just silly.

Look, here’s how it works:
Figure out where you and and where you are going. Ignore everything else on the map. That’ll basically be a lot of upper Manhattan, The Bronx, Queens, and most of Brooklyn. And, frankly, if you’re not on the east side, don’t worry about the 4,5,6. Just worry about the color of the one you’re using today. And learn a new one tomorrow. Or don’t.

I’ve been here for 15 years now and only recently had to deal with the L at all. I took the 2 for the first time past 110th street about two weeks ago despite living off the 1. My point is that you shouldn’t worry about the whole big thing, just your little part of it.


You went across 110th st?

(from memory, partially)
First time I visited NYC, we stayed at the youth hostel at Amsterdam & 104th.

To get there from the airport we ended up on the A, but we really needed to be on the C (which I knew when we got on, but I thought it would be quicker to go up and get the C back down).

The people we were sharing the car with thought that the pair of pasty looking English white guys probably didn’t want to be going up into Harlem so they checked on us and made sure we knew where we were going…

1 Like

Hells to the yeah, I was at 150th before it was called Hamilton Heights and long before there were any musicals about it.

That hostel is still there if you have any reason to stop in and check up on the old neighborhood.

And it probably was quicker to take the A up and the C down, but it depends on the time of day.

1 Like

I went to college in Manhattan, that map never seemed hard to me.

1 Like

Are you kidding? I really hope you’re kidding. It’s a subway map, not a pedestrian map. Staten Island has no business being on there at all.

They put (some) bus transfer points on it in “speech balloon” form for the first post-Vignelli redesign and it was total mess. Cluttered, illegible, and useless, since if you need a map you definitely don’t know what bus goes where. The bus map should be (and now is) a completely separate layer.

(You’re right about parks though, there’s no reason Central Park should be the only major one on the map.)

Edit: That redesign cannot possibly have been as far back as 1978… I remember being pissed off about it, and I wasn’t old enough in ’78 to be that crotchety. Okay, that’s not true, but I wasn’t taking subways enough yet to care.

The map shouldn’t leave people clueless once they’ve exited the NYCT/MTA system.

Um. Use the one on your phone? Google maps is your friend.

It is my best friend. However, I’m arguing about the “in a vacuum” usefulness of Moilanen’s map, not about how a person should actually navigate the city.

There is no vacuum. This map and any subway maps is a compliment to other things that guide you around the city so you can find a place to pee. Usually Starbucks.

This. I’ve lived here for all of my 36 years and I have no idea where the J/M/Z go and I’m fine with it.

1 Like

If forced at gunpoint to talk about the JMZ, right now I would answer: brown, Rock Center, then north to the park before going into Queens.

That’s literally it. And I’m not even positive about the Rock Center bit, I think I’ve seen it there. I have no idea where it goes south of that. Maybe it goes into Williamsburg?

This is fascinating to me, I literally never even think about that line (same for you, G) and now I have to go have a look.

1 Like

Aw hell, I was shot dead, dead, dead, the M is totally orange and it’s the only one of the three near Midtown. The J and Z fricking start in lower Manhattan and go across the Williamsburg Bridge out to Jamaica.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.