Before and although it was easier having

Before (1000) Charles Tyson Yerkes was an American Financier, who in 1900, created the Underground Electric Railways Company ofLondon as a way of controlling the District Railway. Yerkes wanted to becomeinvolved in the development of the London underground railway system and strivedto unify it. Though he died in 1905 before any of his works had been completed,his ideas were carried out by his successors when they were bought together onone map.  The first combined map forLondon’s Underground railways began to be issued for passengers in 1906, beforethis, each line had its own separate map.

The next year, the UERL, central London,metropolitan, great Northern & City, and City & South London Railways agreedto create the first all-inclusive map, which would combine lines from theircompanies. Some of these companies were in a poor financial state and so in1907 they joined together to create a complete system of underground railwaysunder the name ‘Underground’. As Jackson & Croome (1964, p. 132 cited inMerrill, 2013, p. 247) outline, a new map was designed in 1908 to “educate thepublic of the network’sgrowing integration. The map displayed the network almost in its entirety”.

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This map clearly laid the foundation for future designs, introducing colour forthe first time, but it also suffered from trying to replicate the route (makingit harder to read than a geometric line) and also distorted the Metropolitanline to make room for the colour key (Garland, 1994, p. 8). Another company,the waterloo & City, decided not to join the underground, though it’s linefeatured on several maps between 1908 and 1913. All-inclusive maps made iteasier for travellers to navigate the rail routes. However, these first mapswere designed to be geographically accurate and although it was easier havingmultiple routes on one map, there were issues with the clarity, which wouldbecome increasingly worse as new lines are added.  Frank Pickwas a transport administrator who spent years working with trains. In 1912, hebecame the Commercial Manager of the Underground Electric railways company ofLondon (UERL) and is celebrated as the main figure, responsible for its strongcorporate identity. Pick was very interested in design and aimed to introduce aconsistent look to advertising and lettering as he was unhappy with the diverseand endless variety of typefaces used across the system.

In 1915, he had thelogo redesigned as the heart of a successful corporate identity. 1915, Pick hademployed johnston to design a new simplified typeface. The Sans Serifexemplified the virtues of modern design. It was clean-lined andefficient-qualities Pick wanted to see imposed on the system as a whole. Pickwas very concerned to present the Underground system as rational, scientific,and efficient in its management. One of the ways he tried to do that wasthrough the architecture of the Underground stations.

He chose Charles Holdento design the new extension stations, particularly on the Piccadilly and CentralLines. Holden’s approach was to use a kind of architecture which would beunderstood as rational and modern – a kind of European modernism. He realised,or was instructed, that the stations must be recognisable as belonging to thesame species. If one saw an Underground station, it should be recognisable aspart of the Underground system. clear new typeface to apply to all UndergroundGroup buildings, rolling stock and publications. Johnston’s typeface, (known asJohnston sans) was first used in 1916 and was so successful that it was used upuntil 1979 when it was slightly reworked and renamed to ‘New Johnston’ to keepit up to date and relevant for the modern age.

The Johnston typeface, designedexclusively for the Underground, is a sans-serif font that remains in use todayits elegant simplicity taken for granted – as much great design often is. Thetypefaces success was down to its clarity and adaptability (Sinclair2016). Johnston is also responsible for the rebrand of the London undergroundin 1925 when he designed the iconic roundel logo that is still used today. Thereis very little record of what Londoners thought of the symbol at first.Journalists did observe that the new signs were part of a massive modernizationprogram on the Underground, and appreciated the consistency and coherence thatthe roundel provided in its role as station sign. (Byrnes) In 1925 Stingemoredesigned a new map which removed all surface detail in hopes of improving theclarity. However, this proved to be confusing for commuters and in 1932 the Thameswas added back into the design as it created a landmark that help peoplevisualise where they were a bit easier.

This is the design that Beck went on to develop into a diagrammatic map,much the same as we use today. 


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