London Underground Map

Print
1933 (printed and published)
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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Henry Beck's map of the London Underground Railway is the most famous transport map in the world, and an icon of 20th-century London. Beck was an unemployed engineer when he first devised the map. His design was inspired by electrical circuit diagrams and uses only vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines. In designing this map, Beck ignored geographical accuracy and chose instead to emphasize the connections and interchanges between the different lines and stations. This resulted in a map which is misleading about the distances between individual stations, but is very clear and easy to use for those undertaking a journey on the system. The map was so successful that it has remained unchanged (apart from the addition of new lines and stations) since it was first devised in 1933. The original sketch for the map is also in the collection (E.814-1979).


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Colour lithograph
Brief Description
Lithograph, 2nd edition print of Henry Beck's London Underground Map; produced for the LPTB, 1933
Physical Description
A small poster map showing the London Underground Railway network in diagrammatic form.
Dimensions
  • Height: 14.1cm
  • Width: 20.2cm
Gallery Label
Henry Beck's London Underground map is the most famous transport map in the world, and an icon of twentieth-century London. In 1931, the unemployed engineer took inspiration from electrical circuit systems to express clarity in relationships rather than geographical accuracy.(2007)
Credit line
Given by Ken Garland Esq.
Subjects depicted
Place Depicted
Summary
Henry Beck's map of the London Underground Railway is the most famous transport map in the world, and an icon of 20th-century London. Beck was an unemployed engineer when he first devised the map. His design was inspired by electrical circuit diagrams and uses only vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines. In designing this map, Beck ignored geographical accuracy and chose instead to emphasize the connections and interchanges between the different lines and stations. This resulted in a map which is misleading about the distances between individual stations, but is very clear and easy to use for those undertaking a journey on the system. The map was so successful that it has remained unchanged (apart from the addition of new lines and stations) since it was first devised in 1933. The original sketch for the map is also in the collection (E.814-1979).
Collection
Accession Number
E.816-1979

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record createdAugust 23, 2007
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