A New Subway Map for New York City?

After countless delays and at a cost of $4.45 billion, New York City’s Second Avenue Subway (the new Q extension) finally opened on December 31, 2016. At the opening, wide-eyed passengers were given updated copies of the 1972 map of the system, originally created by graphic designer Massimo Vignelli. The MTA’s decision to spend their dwindling budget on these vintage maps illustrates the love that design enthusiasts have for them. But, taboo though it may be for me to say to my fellow graphic designers, this attractive map is extremely hard to decipher. It’s an example of design for the sake of aesthetics rather than function.

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 Left to right: The 1972 map of the New York City subway system, by graphic designer Massimo Vignelli, the current map, and Roger van den Bergh’s proposed map.

Left to right: The 1972 map of the New York City subway system, by graphic designer Massimo Vignelli, the current map, and Roger van den Bergh’s proposed map.

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