What Does London’s Tube Map Really Look Like?

We came across this interesting article in the Daily Mail (unlikely, I know!) comparing the perceived journey distances using the tube map compared to what the real map looks like and what the actual distances are.


According to research by Zhan Guo, a professor of urban planning and transportation policy at New York University, up to 30% of passengers misjudge the shortest journey path, often trusting the tube map more than their experience. Although the tube map visually simplifies, or perhaps just makes it aesthetically pleasing, the graphic design it is actually quite deceptive in terms of station layout and proximity.


This amazing live tube map – created by Matthew Somerville- also shows us how different the actual layout of the lines is. Although it is not completely accurate, and slightly erratic, it is quite fascinating to look at.

It’s interesting to see an iconic piece of graphic design such as the Tube Map being shown up for its failings in accuracy of information, but also showing that it more than holds its own in terms of aesthetic appeal. Which do you think is more important in terms of good design?


Mark Noad sent us a link to his more accurate version of the London Tube map. We like the way Noad has kept the inspiration and graphic clarity of Harry Beck’s original design. Thanks for sharing Mark.


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  1. Posted June 17, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    I have recently published a version of the London Underground map that positions the stations geographically whilst still trying to retain the clarity of the original diagram. You can find it at http://www.london-tubemap.com let me know what you think.


  2. Posted August 27, 2013 at 12:33 am | Permalink

    I have been working on a version of the London Rail maps that tries to tackle the entire oyster area with the use of only horizontals, verticals and 45degrees in between. It can be view at http://www.londonlayout.co.uk/
    Always look for comments


  3. Luigi
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    I found your maps absolutely great. Very helpful. I even mentioned them on linkedin to my connections. Thanks a lot!

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