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After 80 Years of Confusing People, the London Underground Has an Accurate Map

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Up until recently, the London Underground was difficult to navigate because of its beautifully-drawn yet horribly inaccurate map. But there’s a new map in town—actually, the London Underground’s been using a more accurate map for a while now and just not sharing it.

The engineer Harry Beck created London’s minimal (and very inaccurate) map 82 years ago, and for designers it was revolutionary because of its use of color-coding and diagrammatic simplicity. But Beck’s tube diagram was also incredibly confusing for users–a study once measured that up to 30 percent of the transit’s travelers got lost.


The newer Geographical London Connections map is still a pretty attractive graphic to look at, but it’s also accurate. Travelers have James Burbage to thank for bringing it to light; Burbage made a Freedom of Information Request asking that the London Underground supply more accurate maps last year. It’s not totally clear from his letter whether or not he knew about the existence of more accurate maps, but a whole lot of people are really glad he asked.

Take a look at the older tube design here and the new geographical connections map here.


[What Do They Know; h/t Co.Design]