Cooper Union Presents “The Subway Map: The Last 50 Years, The Next 50 Years” on the Anniversary of the NYC Subway

Competition Photo Raleigh D'Adamo Cooper Union Subway Untapped Cities AFineLyneRaleigh D’Adamo (left) and his co-winner in the competition, Harris Sjchechtman (right) with their winning entries. Raleigh is pointing to where he was brought up in Brooklyn. Photo via transitmaphistory.com

Timed for the 111th Anniversary of the opening of the New York City subway on October 27, 1904, Cooper Union will hold the symposium The Subway Map: The Last 50 Years, The Next 50 Years. The evening will be a presentation on the evolution of the New York City subway map over the past 50 years, along with a discussion and debate on how it should evolve over the next 50 years. Panelists will discuss the benefits of moving from paper maps to electronic maps, with the ability to have multiple layers of information as it changes from day to night, and weekday to weekend.

Also in the discussion will be the idea of an international digital language for a transit map app, which would allow travelers to visit any city in the world and understand the transit system. R. Raleigh D’Adamo, winner of the 1964 design competition for a new subway map, will be among the panelists.

The event will take place on Tuesday, October 27 from 6 pm to 9:30 pm and will be located in The Great Hall in the Foundation Building of Cooper Union located at 7 East 7th Street. The event is Free, however an RSVP is required. Copies of the reconstructed D’Adamo map will be available for sale in limited numbers.

original subway map-cooper union subway untapped cities afinelynePrevious map based on the three original operating companies (IRT, BMT, IMD) used during the first half of the century. Photo via cooper.edu

During the first half of the century, New York City had three operating subway companies. The IRT, BMT and IMD. They were unified in 1940, with a much-needed connection scheduled for 1964. In anticipation of the new Chrystie Street connection, and the need to clarify the current subway map (shown below), a design competition was launched by the transit authority. The winner was local lawyer, R. Raleigh D’Adamo. His map became the official subway map in 1967, when the new connection opened.

NYC Subway Map Public Competition-1964-R Raleigh D'Adamo-Gary Lloyd-Reka Komoli-2Submission to the 1964 NYC subway map competition by Raleigh D’Adamo, original design, reconstructed by Reka Komoli

The original winning hand-drawn subway map was lost but last year, Raleigh D’Adamo found a color photograph of the lost map in his basement. It was grainy and quite blurred, but with the help of graphic designer Reka Komoli, he was able to reconstruct the map he drew in 1964. D’Adamo is also credited for the basic ideas behind a color-coded subway system.

Next, read about 10 Fun Facts About Opening Day of NYC Subway. Get in touch with the author at AFineLyne.

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