Points of View » London Underground, 1933

London Underground, 1933

The Systemic

In 1933, the now-iconic London Underground diagram appeared. The labored line of the railroad as it negotiated the countryside is gone, replaced by smooth vectors coursing at zero, 45 or 90 degrees over a blank background. There is no terrain save for the broad stroke of the Thames. The Underground’s odd alignments along medieval streets, its awkward transfers between platforms in endless winding tubes vanish. For the first time, the sprawling, incomprehensible metropolis looks like a single entity, a network of places drawn into a whole.

Above: Harry Beck, London Underground, 1933. Courtesy of the <a href=""London Transport Museum.

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