Harry Beck's London Underground Map

A Convex Lens for the Global City

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John D. Schwetman

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After Harry Beck designed his map of the London Underground, it became an icon of the city and a model for maps in other large transit networks around the world. The map allowed its readers to see themselves as components of the large, organized structure of the metropolis but also confronted them with the possibility of losing themselves to that structure. An analysis of the post-Beck subway map tradition shows it to be a battleground between the zeal for order and the latent chaos at the heart of the urban communities that the map represents and also situates this conflict in a larger context of the emergence of a global societal structure bound together by the control of capital and of the information that enables such control.

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Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies


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