London has the world's oldest subway system, Boston has the oldest subway in the United States. London has The Jam's "Down in the Tube Station At Midnight", Boston has "Charlie on the MTA". (As an aside, two-thirds of The Jam are reuniting for a tour. Neither of the two is Paul Weller, so what's the point?) London has lots of handicapped inaccessible stations, so does Boston. What Boston doesn't have is a new game devoted to rebuilding the T system. On the Underground "is a board game about building the London Underground - the way it should have been built." We need something like this for Boston--perhaps Charlie on the MBTA will take a crack at it? All we have is 1973's The Boston Game. Does anyone have this at home? Perhaps they could dig it out for Exploit Boston's game night?
London's Underground also has a strong design sensibility, thanks to the work of Frank Pick, who directed the construction of the London Underground for many years, the immediately recognizable typography of Edward Johnston, and the cartography of Harry Beck, who created the landmark London Underground map in the 1930s. It is hard to imagine anyone making a rug based on the Boston subway map as has been done with the London Underground map. At one time, Boston's subway stations looked more like those of London's Underground. Recent renovations at Arlington Street Station have uncovered mosaic tile work from the 1920s and the walls of the red line platforms at South Station have exposed mosaic, but the last major overhaul of overall T design was done in the 1960s by Cambridge Seven, which was also responsible for the strongest current identifier for the MBTA: the round signs with a black block letter "T" to identify stations. One wonders how long we will have to wait until an integrated wayfinding system will be put in place in Boston, one which takes into account the street sign system, public transportation signage, historic landmark navigation, and the myriad other ways people locate themselves and find their way through Boston.
Would you like your own London Tube map? The official Transport for London site has them.
This post was inspired by: LONDON /moleskinecity.com » Re-building the Tube.