metro-map

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Unofficial Map: Mexico City Metro by Richard Archambault

Following on from my previous post, here’s an unofficial map for the Mexico City Metro that makes full use of the Lance Wyman icons. It’s designed by Richard Archambault, who also works on the essential Jetpack for Wordpress.

As can be seen from the archival photo above, the Wyman design team explored a purely iconic treatment of the Metro map, apparently eschewing station names altogether. Admittedly, the system was much simpler back then, with only lines 1, 2 and 3 present in the mockup as shown on the wall.

As we know, the official map has since moved away from this approach and no longer features the icons at all. So what would a modern Mexico City Metro map that used icons look like? That’s what Richard’s map sets out to show, and it’s a surprising contrast to the disappointing official map. 

Richard has painstakingly vectorised all the icons (around 200 or so!) from the bitmap versions available on the STC’s website to use in the map, and I really appreciate the way that he’s made them big and bold – it’s certainly very evocative of Wyman’s original concept.

The “big and bold” approach almost forces the map into being more evenly spaced and less cramped in the centre of the map when compared to the official map – the icons always take up a certain amount of space, which in turn creates space around them. Richard also keeps his route lines as straight as possible, which suits the minimalist aesthetic of the map nicely. Yes, there’s some odd angles here and there, but I don’t really find them distracting in the context of the whole map. Richard also includes the Tren Ligero line in its entirety – nicely differentiated by placing its icons in circles – something the official map relegates to a vague arrow and caption.

The labelling of stations is perhaps a little pedestrian (a version with no labels at all like the Wyman concept would be interesting), and the line numbers at the end of each line could perhaps do with a little bit of differentiation from the station icons next to them. They’re the same size, shape and colour, and can be read as an extra station at first glance. Reducing them in size, or perhaps having them as white shapes with the text and a border stroke in the line colour could do the trick.

Best of all, Richard’s map has been featured in the new edition of Mark Ovenden’s Transit Maps of the World. Having gotten no response from the STC regarding inclusion of their official map, Mark reached out to Richard and basically commissioned him to update his map for use in the book. Awesome!

Our rating: Shows that an iconic approach to the Mexico City Metro is perfectly valid, and certainly produces a more attractive and usable map than the official one. Three stars!

Side note: I’ve only just noticed that the icon for the “Oceania” station is a kangaroo, while that of “Deportiva Oceania” is a koala with a soccer ball. Australia represent!

SUBWAY SLEEPER, pt. 2

pt. 1


“This is bordering on some truly interesting psychopathy,” Lydia notes, pouting up her lips and idly tapping her fingers on Stiles’ desk.  She muses aloud, half-spinning in his chair, “I bet I could do a decent thesis on you.”

Stiles shushes her.  This is not a laughing matter; he’s closing in on something here.  He glances between the metro map he’s pinned up and the one he’s drawn on the wall, huge Xs through an admittedly small percentage of the stops.

“I have no idea where he gets on!” he groans in frustration, jamming the marker into his other hand.  Which is when he realizes he has ink on the tips of those fingers.  He licks them, rubs them together and frowns when the marks don’t fade in the slightest.  He shakes it off and goes back to the map, jabs the marker cap into his chin and says deductively, “There are only so many stops he can get on, right?  And yet every time I see him, he’s out freaking cold.  If I could just find my patient zero…”

“That doesn’t make sense,” Lydia interrupts primly, “He’s not a disease.”  She pauses for a second.  “Though you’re certainly acting as though you’re sick in the head,” she mutters under her breath.

“Fine,” Stiles concedes.  “If I could just find the nexus point, the start of it all, where his journey begins, then!  Hah, then!  Then I could see what color his eyes are,” he trails off dreamily, snapping out of it at Lydia’s judgmental face.  He coughs.  “He has to be awake to step onto the train, right, so all I have to do is—”

“You’re purposefully ignoring the idea that maybe he lives there,” Lydia butts in with a sharp smile, like she thinks announcing that Stiles’ future husband might be homeless is going to shame him into being less obsessive about him.

As freaking if.  This is his soulmate he’s talking about here.

“I wish he lived there!  Do you know how appealing that would make me look?  He’d have to go for me, then.”  Stiles flops down in the armchair he’s turned to face the wall and frowns.  “As it is, he’s probably some kind of prince or heir or god.”

Lydia rolls her eyes.  “Each as likely as the one before it, of course.”  She lets out a long breath through her nose and suggests perkily, “Have you ever considered that maybe he’s faking so he doesn’t have to talk to you?  You said you’ve tried waking him.”

And Stiles had.  Sort of.  Mostly he’d just boldly touched his future husband’s knee with the tips of his fingers.  (His skin was warm even through the patch on his jeans and Stiles had felt like a total creep and gotten off at a stop that wasn’t his in an effort to flee from his own weird behavior.)  He’d also made the odd loud noise that had gone completely ignored by not just his future husband, but everyone else on the metro.

“Meaning the options are: he’s a figment of your imagination – and then I’m definitely using you as the subject of my thesis, he’s a ghost, or he’s ignoring you.”

Well.  That sums it up nicely.

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