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[Comments] (3) Subway, Maps: One problem with maps throughout history is the way they depict subway stations. The oldest known maps don't show subway stations at all. In the 20th century things got a little better, and now subway stations show up even on fancy zoomable online maps. But the zoomable maps still have a map/territory problem that doesn't need to exist anymore.

Here's Union Square, one of my favorite places in New York, home to the subway station I like so much I have a mug of it. (That's on Google Maps. I tried to show on other popular map services, but Yahoo's map system seems to not be addressable, and Everyblock's and Microsoft's maps of NYC don't show subway stations at all. Anyway.) Most maps (including the NYC subway map) show one subway station there on 14th street. Google Maps shows two subway stations there on 14th street (which there kind of are, but it doesn't mention that they're connected). All maps show the subway stop(s) as a point on the map.

But in the real world we don't go to a point and that point's the subway station. This works for bus stops (which are legion on Google Maps), but subway stations typically have multiple entrance stairways, and sometimes also elevators. There are six different entrances to the Union Square station in a three-block radius, for a total of (I think) eight stairways and an elevator. Each of those comes out at a different place on the street. It takes experience to know where all the entrances to a subway station are, and a better map would save people time. In today's world of zoomable maps and infinite detail there's no reason not to signal where all the entrances are and even have a cutaway that shows in outline how the station looks under the ground, a la Dwarf Fortress.

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Comments:

Posted by Adam G at Sat Jul 19 2008 00:46

http://onnyturf.com/subway has exactly that, at least for Manhattan and the Bronx. They're working on adding the other boroughs.

Posted by Leonard at Sat Jul 19 2008 08:09

Yeah, that looks great! And there are entrances to Union Square I didn't even know about!

Posted by Rachel at Sat Jul 19 2008 10:48

amen. i hate the confusing directions i had to give telling people which seven sisters exit to take.


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