Transit Maps of the World book -- sheer subway-porn

I got a review copy of Mark Ovenden's "Transit Maps of the World" in the mail today and promptly fell down the rabbit hole with it. The book does pretty much what you'd expect: shows you the maps for pretty much every transit system in the world, with some well-written commentary (history, trivia, graphic design challenges), including historical maps of the major transit systems as well as photos of some incidental artwork, like the stunning Deco covers the French put on the old Paris Metro maps.

This is sheer public transit/map porn, and I'm in love. The challenge of representing the geography and network logic of complex transit systems is a daunting one, and while many of the maps converge on solutions similar to the archetypal New York and London maps, others (like Tokyo and Hamburg) have sui generis solutions that are smart and unexpected.

This is the kind of book that would be incredibly fun to browse with kids as part of a world geography investigation -- and also the sort of thing that makes great bedtime reading if you want to salt your dreams with the possibility of travel to distant cities. Link


  1. Well, that’s just full of awesome. I just pre-ordered a copy for my parents who have the rather odd distinction of being transit buffs. :)

  2. We may have HopStop and Google Transit now, but there’s something great about finding your way around a city using only subway maps. Sort of like urban exploring I guess. Of course, I tend to always wait until I’m actually on the subway to look for them, which can be a problem…

  3. NEED.

    I love subways and subway maps. I can only hope that it’s coffee table sized, with the screw in legs and everything.

  4. I have his Metro Maps of the World; it’s an absolutely wonderful book. Transit Maps of the World sounds like a (possibly expanded, certainly updated) US edition.

    It’s organized in “zones”, with the more major systems getting four pages, second-tier systems two, then one, then half a page, and on into the small ones that get a paragraph or two.

    For real fun, though, see this map of the world’s metro systems as stations on the London Underground. It’s a shame you can’t actually take the subway from Boston to London (with changes at New York and Rotterdam).

  5. I posted something on my blog about this book last Wednesday (basically that I was drooling over it) and the author sent me a fantastic email back, which I also posted on this past Saturday (10/27). He’s VERY funny. Check it out here:
    House of Jules


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