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Friday Fun: World’s Subway Stations at the Same Scale

Photo via Neil Freeman.

Neil Freeman, an artist and urban planner living in New York City, draws subway stations of the world at the same scale, which makes for an interesting comparison between the dense and interweaving routes of New York City, Tokyo and Paris, and the sprawling veins of Washington, D.C., Hong Kong and Valencia.

Geographical differences aside, it’s especially interesting to consider the lifestyle differences between these cities. For example, both Paris and Toronto have a population of a little over 2 million people, yet their metro lines differ significantly in density. Obviously only a portion of the population relies on mass transit to get around, so what does difference in subway design tell us about the way people live their lives and build their cities?

Here is a similar representation of mass transit systems of North America. “At a glance, many metros seem to be comparable in scale, but what separates New York from Baltimore is density: station-to-station distance, line overlap, and linkages,” explains Bill Rankin. “Most systems are organized as a hub with spokes; the two notable exceptions are New York and Mexico City, both of which are more like nets.”

What interesting differences do you see in these representations? Of course, many factors go into mass transit planning, but do you know anything unique to a given city that might have influenced its subway design?

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  • Joseph Martinez

    Interesting visual analysis. What’s a little off about the representation of North America is that the map of the San Francisco Bay Area has a commuter rail line indicated (CalTrain). For New York, it doesn’t appear that any of the LIRR, MetroNorth, or NJT Lines are mapped, which are all electrified commuter rail lines and provide superior service.