Mass transit lover Chris Whong grew up in Maryland, where he developed a fascination for the DC Metro. As a sixth grader, he even wrote to the Metro's agency to find out how he could obtain a "real" Metro map, versus a reprint or poster. But for the past three years, Whong has been living in New York City and he decided to reinterpret the NYC subway map in the style of the Metro map. Check it out:
Whong, who came to NYC for graduate school, told us, "The DC Metro was my first mass transit love... I was that kid who had to be in the front car so I could watch the train operator and see the tracks through the front window. I've been a huge fan of maps (my undergrad degree is in GIS) and transportation for my entire life."
While in grad school, Whong worked at the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management. "I got to work on a research project that studied how transit maps affect riders' decisions on which route to take," he said, "Subtleties in the maps (which are usually distorted) can have major impacts on what people perceive to be 'better' routes."
He recalled "being intimidated by the NYC subway map the first time I came here as an adult in 2007. I'd always wondered what it would look like if you made it as simple as the DC map. When you remove the streets and background labels, it becomes especially clear that stations named after streets don't tell you very much about that stop. In DC, stations are named for a nearby attraction, institution, or neighborhood. I don't know if that would work or not in NYC, just because there are so many more stations to keep track of." There are 468 NYC subway stations, while the Metro has 85 (with 5 under construction).
On his website, Whong explained how he developed this map, "I’ve excluded Brooklyn and Queens, which dominate the NYC Subway Map, in order to keep the relative width the same as the original. Like most transit maps, it’s highly distorted, with Lower Manhattan as the center of attention. One of the biggest challenges was fitting everything in with only 90 and 45-degree angles, which forces the dimensions of some spots (especially where Broadway cuts diagonally through midtown)."
Whong joins the ranks of others who have re-imagined the our subway map, like Max Roberts who created a version of it in concentric circles. Whong likes Roberts' Circles map very much, "Circles are the last thing that comes to mind when you think about gridded NYC, but this map gives you a whole new perspective and is much simpler to read than the spaghetti of our current subway map. It's beautiful and visionary!"
Today, Whong's beloved 1991 Metro map hangs in his Upper West Side apartment. He takes the 1/2/3 everywhere.