New York. The subway map illustrated by Ponzi

The map of the New York City subway system was designed in 1972 by Massimo Vignelli. In a book illustrated for the MoMA, Emiliano Ponzi tells the genesis.


The New York City subway is one of the largest mass-transit systems in the world, with 24 lines and 472 stations serving nearly 6 million riders every day. This vast and complex system needs very clear maps and signs for its many riders, and when in 1972 the Metropolitan Transportation Authority decided that it was time for a new map, it called on Massimo Vignelli, an Italian designer living in New York, to create it.

Vignelli and his team wrestle with the difficulties of depicting the subway system and of turning a lot of information into an easy-to-use map: what to include, what to leave out, and how to show it. Their struggles and results introduce young readers to the idea of graphic design as a way to solve problems, to communicate effectively and elegantly, and to create objects that shape our world.

The Great New York Subway Map, created by the award-winning author and illustrator Emiliano Ponzi and published in partnership with the New York Transit Museum, includes images of the original map, now in the collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, alongside other examples of Vignelli’s work

The Great New York Subway Map
Written and illustrated by:
Emiliano Ponzi
298 x 230 mm
Date of publication:
January 2018
Museum of Modern Art

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