The second state of a design classic
By BECK, Harry , 1933

Underground Railways of London. London Underground Transport. Issued Free.

British Isles London
  • Author: BECK, Harry
  • Publication place: London
  • Publisher: London, Transport, 55, Broadway, Westinster, S.W.1
  • Publication date: June, 1933
  • Physical description: Chromolithograph plan, title, list of places of interest and theatres to verso.
  • Dimensions: 142 by 202mm (5.5 by 8 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 1611


A fine example of Beck’s iconic map of the London Underground System.

The map was designed by the 29 year-old engineer Harry Beck. Abandoning the restrictions of a geographically correct layout, the map actually constitutes a diagram of the network, showing relationships rather than distances to scale. By using only verticals, horizontals and diagonals, and adopting a clear colour scheme, Beck created a design classic, both easy to use and aesthetically appealing. After the positive public response to the limited trial run issued in 1932, the design was formally adopted in 1933, becoming an essential part of London Transport’s campaign to project itself as a modern, rational and efficient system. The design remains in use to this day, having become essential to the comprehensibility of complex transport networks all over the world.

The present example is the second state of the map issued in June of 1933. Minor changes have been made: the interchange stations are now marked with a circle; the Piccadilly Line now extends to Cockfosters; the Metropolitan Line to Aylesbury; and there is an escalator connection between Bank and Monument.

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