December 11, 2005

scaled subway maps, or hooray for density

back when i was working in shanghai, the firm did a lot of regional planning projects, and each project was compiled in a project book for client presentations. i came across a book we did in collaboration with johnson fain that included a spread of scaled urban maps -- comparing side-by-side the city grids of NYC, LA, SF, Savannah GA, Beijing, Shanghai, and HK (among other cities with orthogonal master plans). a plan view doesn't account for the experiential difference of walking through forests of skyscrapers versus fields of strip malls or verandah-ed houses, but it was fascinating to compare the density of the grids. i would sit and trace a route through san francisco, and see that walking down a single typical block in LA is like walking from the embarcadero to 8th street.

but ever wonder how BART compares to other transit lines? see this. if you've ever ridden BART, you'd know, like LA's public transit, it's sprawling. i suppose muni is meant to fill in the space between BART and everything west of market, but i've never found our transit system extremely convenient. (i'm reminded of how when BART lines were first drawn out in the late 1960s, a line was planned to run to the western addition and GG park. but, residents protested trains running past their property -- partly to avoid bringing in 'riffraff' from the east bay -- but would it have lowered the value of their real estate or increased it, with greater visits and convenience that a line would bring? could bechtel and the planners done it better? or were we indisputably a car culture in which class lines are drawn by who can afford to drive into town and who has to take the train?)

anyway, here's another great side-by-side. each of the train maps above is at the same scale -- try to guess which cities' trains are represented before you read the list; you might be surprised. (top to bottom: london, berlin, SF, tokyo, NYC). also check out mass transit of north america. i get the impression the denser the transit system (with a tight street grid), the better and more utilized it is.


siqi said...

If Oakland/SF were like London, I don't even have to drive to work, you don't even have to drive to work, duh... I am just being silly, hey I hope you had a good time at home.

jean said...

i can't comprehend how much i hate driving, and yet i do it for hours everyday. how long does it take for one to do something one hates for the sake of money until one goes crazy? that's the experiment and i am the guinea pig!

yup, home was pretty chill. seeing all those suv's make me want to go skiing. oh yeah, have you bought your plane tickets for china yet? i think we should discuss ...

andrea said...

hah! i'm glad you posted this; i'll keep returning to it.

"seeing all those suv's make me want to go skiing!"

funny reaction! to me! i don't even know how to ski! whenever i see an suv, i simply see red! as in, i want to plow right into them...with whichever toyota family sedan i'm driving. even when i'm walking, i see red.

this must speak volumes about how you and i see driving. i still "like" it, in moderation. it's wasteful... but i think it goes hand-in-hand with "proving myself". i may not be a large white male cowboy who lives in montana... but i can drive just as fast, and navigate just as well!

i do agree that driving in the bay area in the bay area is an unpleasant experience. the unpleasant-ness is exacerbated by the "immigrants" to the bay from L.A., and other wide open, drive-y places. these "immigrants" tend to complain about the "poor driving culture" in the bay.

example: my friend david was intent on driving to the sharper image store by the embarcadero (instead of BARTing). he figured that it would be better than "navigating" the way to the store by ghirardelli square.

well, i sat in the passenger's seat while he "missed" the exit from the I-80 West. then, he grumbled. then, he got off the freeway, grumbled some more about the in-visibility of direction-signs, and then GOT BACK ON the I-80 East. then, he got confused when he couldn't find the same exit.

had San Francisco planners been so intent on "copying" L.A.'s freeway system, then the exit that david was seeking would have descended right into the bay!

egads. eventually, we got to the store, and we found parking.

next semester, i'm taking a seminar on transportation energy! can't wait to see you (& everyone) on saturday...if we're still on. i have new things about devendra banhart (socioeconomic things!) to talk to you & roger about..

good-bye for now.

jean said...

i let out a very evil laugh after i read the story of your friend david. i think it's the car rage inside me seeping out! transportation+energy+seminar sounds really gross and boring together, but i bet it'll be very interesting, at least add to the cynicism and misanthropy ... but what about the ANANYA ROY class?!!! are you taking it?? it's perfect for you!

do you need a mixer for saturday by any chance (for the turntables)??

speaking of mix ... plan on having mai tais and caipirinhas for late lunch.

andrea said...

whoa!!! caipirinhas!

well, yes, a mixer would be nice. i wouldn't want to appropriate ben's belongings, but i don't think that the 2 turntables would operate very efficiently without the mixer. :p

"perfect"??! true! but, priorities, priorities. i've been waiting a few years to take a class in the ERG department! i took CP 114 last summer and regret dropping it... a little bit. the professor is ghanaian (cornelius kofi nuworsoo) but has since moved to cal poly san luis obispo. and i really, really really want to indulge in transport, transport, transport! i get what you mean about cynicism and misanthropy... and i guess i can see the class as a collection of Circular questions... but i guess that transportation is the Theme Park of city planning. know what i mean?

plus, if i went ahead and took ananya roy's class, i'd feel like i was living in the shadow of bruce's ghost, as well as the ghost of another friend, or something. these are petty sentiments; i can explain them all! i hear so much about her through word of mouth; i hear so many anecdotes of her anecdotes. which is great! she is a wonderful, wonderful, inspiring-ass woman! but i just don't have a good relationship with UCB classes anyhow...

if you still have the Reader for CP 115 and want to reminisce, i'll happily eat up your favorite articles. :p

jean said...

maybe roy's been so built up now, it's a good time to be reactionary against the Reactionary. like resisting utter marxist indoctrination or something, key word being indoctrination.

but i think i'd still promote it, because of the knowledge you can get from the class. this class is just top quality curated -- content, coursing, reading. it's urban theory from a theorist AND educator. i've rarely seen a professor put so much into her teaching. you simply can't get this after you leave.


andrea said...

"maybe roy's been so built up now, it's a good time to be reactionary against the Reactionary. like resisting utter marxist indoctrination or something, key word being indoctrination."

ohhh,... of course i understand you now. this paragraph in particular.

i realise that there is a danger in waxing so excitedly about a particular person. especially when that person is a professor of some sort.

i would still rather not enroll in Ananya Roy's class this semester. i might flip a coin- and enroll in "Extension UC" classes next Fall, anyhow! worth the dime!

this semester, i need to "focus exclusively" on graduating. and with flair!

i don't feel as if i've ever been indoctrinated. i mean, "indoctrination" isn't something you can really sense, until years or decades pass.

i guess, to put it in Miss N's words, i have been indoctrinated by the concept of "the generation gap".

but i sure's don't feel indoctrinated by no marxist!!!

not now, not never. not even by a neo-marxist. i have and never will know what "neo-marxist" refers to. well, i just don't care to understand these kinds of labels.

i'm not going to effuse so much about Laura N. i don't even take class notes as it is now, and i will never take notes in her class. as much as i love her extemporaneity (is that a word?)
i will never bring a tape-recorder into her classroom.

it would probably freak her outt!!!

besides- she'll probably be teaching AGAIN, next Fall.

everybody is welcome. i think you would love her class, too, jean. she truly Curates. hardly does she ever alter the list of reading materials for her classes, even after time passes.


i swear by this.

you simply couldn't get this anywhere else. i'm echoing your words, here.

about the class itself: i'll show the syllabus and all, and i could parrot the professor's words for your ears. but it wouldn't be worth it for either of us.

and actually, i wouldn't even try to convince you to even pick up any of her books. i feel like her words/texts/lectures/speeches/thoughts are just paraphrases/re-phrases of your own thoughts, anyhow.

except- she's old enough to be either of our grandmothers. she doesn't dig what we dig.

but i will still enjoy talking to her this year. one-on-one, tête à tête.

bombs away!

andrea said...


back when i FIRST responded to those "scaled subway maps" up above, i was mostly thinking about a few things...


Namely, "reference".

i was afraid to linger too much around this post, looking at the maps. that was pretty silly.

at this point (in january 2006!)
i feel something more "visceral" about the maps you posted. as in, "urgent".

they remind me lots of maps of microsopic human anatomy; or of genealogies; or of taxonomies; or of a map of constellations!

andrea said...


living in l.a. really gets you thinking about maps & networks.
you wouldn't think so, given that the city is only slowly re-vamping its transportation policies.

but L.A.'s conception of "networks" is so much more PHYSICAL than.. ABSTRACT. S.F.'s conception of "networks" is very, VERY ABSTRACT. VERY... ethereal. Very Electrical, I guess.

andrea said...

did you know that Berkeley (and, possibly, San Luis Obispo)

handles the bulk of Transportation Planning

for the State?