3d pan white

DC Metro Spiral (Names)

Take that, geospatial relationships.


I misread an advertisement on a bus shelter in Trondheim...it was just a bunch of product-related icons sorted on a few spiraling lines, but at first glance I thought it was a transit map... it gave me an idea. I immediately made my way back to my hostel & sketched it out in the only software I had handy at the moment -- Microsoft Paint (1st draft)


Behold: DC Metro ... in a spiral.


I've loved the response to this, though one thing that's been really interesting has been the multitude of interpretations -- largely around what constitutes a "map". My two cents: a map is something you can use to get from point A to point B... it doesn't have to be efficient, so long as all the information is there. It doesn't even have to be geographical: it could be a mapped out strategy for any variety of things. But in the geographic sense: this map has all that you need to navigate the system. My opinion is that it's a map... it's just not a useful one.




This includes Farragut Crossing but passes over a couple more complex details such as the Yellow Line running to Greenbelt during some times of day, Blue Line's "Rush+" which puts it onto the Yellow Line, and I made a number of names a touch more concise. This should be the final version barring any major glaring errors, though I might add in those two omissions... no reason I can't other than a preference to get some sleep.


It was really quite fortunate that all the lines & stations fit together such that this was even feasible. Even more: I could alternate between hot and cold colors to help maintain contrast. It only took me about 30 minutes to determine it was possible & to lay out its general form, though quite a bit longer to try and make it somewhat aesthetic. I kind of wish I could make the spiral a bit more compact, but my Illustrator skills only went so far and How To videos didn't seem to cover that goal.



Designed in Adobe Illustrator CS5 ... a program with which I know not what I do



1st draft

2nd draft

3rd draft




2015 11 09 - Used by the Washington Post


2015 10 xx - Included in Transit Maps of the World


2012-2015 - Probably included in places; I just stopped paying attention. Leave a comment if you've seen this anywhere!


2012 03 xx - Featured on Infographic Database


2011 11 18 - Featured on Stochasticity


2011 11 18 - Featured on Fuck Yeah Cartography!


2011 11 16 - Featured on Transit Maps


2011 11 03 - Used by We Love DC


2011 07 25 - Used by DC Chillin'


2011 07 20 - Linked in Bernie Wagenblast's daily Transportation Communications Newsletter


2011 07 19 - Shared by the Sun Foundation


2011 07 19 - Featured on Human Transit


2011 07 19 - Featured on Greater Greater Washington


2011 07 19 - Used on Prince of Petworth


2011 07 14 - 2nd draft made the evening links on DCist


2011 07 14 - 2nd draft retweeted by perkinsms


2011 07 14 - 2nd draft retweeted by wmataplusside

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Taken on July 19, 2011