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Transit Maps of the World Paperback – 30 Oct 2007
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The sort of book you couldnt imagine you needed until you got it and now you cant imagine how you could do without it . . . Its fantastic!
Robert Elms, BBC London
Like a "Cond Nast Traveler" magazine for jetsetters with subterranean tendencies.
"The Guardian," London
A beautifully illustrated study of the plans that help passengers navigate the worlds metropolitan railway systems.
"The Times," London
An object lesson in information design.
"Ovenden does what no other design history book has ever done. Transit Maps of the World is a must-have"
-The New York Times Book Review
"The perfect book"
-William Grimes, The New York Times
"This book is the stuff that dreams are made of"
"A fabulous collection. These maps are almost works of art, and can kindle a remembrance of a past trip or a dream of a future journey"
"Impossibly nerdy and thoroughly compelling"
-Kansas City Star
"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. Sheer public transit/map porn!"
-Peter Greenberg, National Public Radio
"Even if you are not a "map person" this book makes it so easy to experience the unique perspective of rail-based transit. Artistically a treat with its interesting colors, shapes and design; it's a coffee table essential. Ovenden brings a unique perspective to maps and to travel in general. Transit Maps of the World is a must-read for the literary traveller"
"A vibrant tip of the hat to the world's urban train systems"
-National Geographic Intelligent Traveller
..".look no further for the next must-have book"
-Very Short List
"The sort of book you couldn't imagine you needed until you got it and now you can't imagine how you could do without it . . . It's fantastic!"
-Robert Elms, BBC London
"Like a CondT Nast Traveler magazine for jetsetters with subterranean tendencies."
-The Guardian, London
"A beautifully illustrated study of the plans that help passengers navigate the world's metropolitan railway systems."
-The Times, London
"An object lesson in information design."
About the Author
Born in London in 1963, Mark Ovenden evinced an early fascination with trains and TV that has remained with him over the course of his life. Following college he pursued a number of positions in local government and on the radio promoting progressive attitudes towards gay issues before getting a full time job at BBC Radio 1 as a producer. In 1998 he joined MTV as a freelance Music Programmer, where he gave birth to another production company which went on to produce shows for Atlantic252. There Mark was later taken on as a presenter of a weekly record review show with Chris Coco and as their specialist programmes producer and later breakfast newsreader.
When Atlantic252 closed down Mark moved to Ministry Of Sound where he helped set up their DAB station, Ibiza unit and later, as Head of Radio there, ran a popular FM version of the station. Mark moved into consultancy after this working with Purple radio and the DRG.
In 2002 while still working in his spare time on his book project he moved to a fledgling TV channel as Channel Manager.
Mark Ovenden's Metro Maps of the World was published in November 2003 to great critical acclaim. It has since been re-written and updated for the American market and is now published by Penguin as Transit Maps of the World. Mark currently resides in Paris where he is researching his next book on a century of cartography of the Paris Metro Map. He is also working on several other book projects, a radio sit-com, and a TV travel show.
Top customer reviews
Maps of all urban systems in the world are featured with a huge number of interesting facts emerging. For instance Moscow has the busiest system and St Petersburg's Avtovo station is considered by many to be the world's finest Talking of architecture I found a useful companion to be 'The Underground Stations of Leslie Green' characterised by their dark red faience tiling (Belsize Park and Russell Square for instance).
Review by Ken Burnett
If you're like me, and enjoy poring over maps, you'll find this book a treat. If all the book had were reproductions of current urban rail maps, it would be worth at least 4 stars. But there's much more. There is a short history of urban rail from its earliest days, and then you have maps and text for about 200 cities around the world. You get narratives on the history of each system, but the emphasis is on the evolution of the transit maps themselves. For some cities, up to about 20 maps are reproduced, and some of these date back to the 19th century. There's a wonderful sense of the conflict between having maps that are aesthetically pleasing and maps that are pleasing to someone trying to find their way around.
The book is divided into 6 zones (rather than chapters), with the distinction based primarily on the evolution of the maps:
zone 1: 8 cities, 4 pages per city. Example: Paris, 17 maps dating back to 1900.
zone 2: 15 cities, 2 pages per city. Example: Boston, 5 maps dating back to 1926.
zone 3: 28 cities, 1 page per city. Amsterdam, 4 maps.
zone 4: 16 cities, 2 cities per page, usually 1-2 maps per city.
zone 5: 18 cities, 1-3 cities per page, mostly 1 map per city.
zone 6: 140? cities, about 12 cities per page, often without maps, very short narratives.
The one problem you'll have is that many of the original maps were very large, and so when the transit map of Greater New York is faithfully reduced to two-thirds of a page in the book, you'll either need remarkable eyesight or a very strong magnifying glass to make out details. But the book is not intended as a catch-all way to actually find your way around, but rather as a paean to maps--you're intended to enjoy looking at the maps, not using them for transit purposes. A real delight!
I think the beauty of the book is in looking at the way various transit companies have approached the problem of communicating (sometimes complex) information in a simple way for passengers yet each map has its unique points. The book's authors rightly trace the origins of the modern designed transit map to London Transport's Harry Beck. His genius was to discard the geographic location of stations and have route lines as either vertical, horizontal or at forty-five degrees. It's amazing to see how many maps of the dozens in the book still follow this general principal.
However, creating a map that might look graphically stunning is not always enough. New York's MTA got Massimo Vignelli to design their map and it looks a visual treat but passengers weren't impressed and found it confusing so the MTA revised it. Vignelli's 1979 map and the latest 2007 MTA one are shown together on a spread in the book, two maps with the same information yet looking so different.
This update has a few more train and station photos to fill the space that was frequently left blank in the first edition and there is a nice touch with a spread near the back that includes some fantasy maps. If I have a fault with the book it is that in the new Zone 6 section many of the maps are so small that I don't think they were worth including.
I thinks it's worth pointing out that Transit Maps is not designed as a reference guide for travelers to cities around the world but as a celebration of the beauty that is inherent in these colourful diagrams.
Some city models look the same (like the central 'circle line' in the metro systems of London, Moscow and Tokyo).
Interesting facts can be found (like New York City has the largest metro system and had 468 stations at the time this book went to press, Buenos Aires had the first metro in South America, and Cairo had the first in Africa, and who knew that Nizhniy Novgorod even had a metro?).
Pictures for some of the cities show the trains and some of the marvellous stations (like the art and chandeliers of Moscow, which can only be described as palatial).
Each city has information on the population, miles of track, number of stations, and the percentage of the system which is underground.
I recommend this book for those interested in travel and/or transit systems. It definitely brings back memories if you have had to use some of these very maps on your travels.
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