Every subway system feels like its own self-contained world, but what if those worlds were linked? The World Metro Map takes the subway systems of 214 cities across five continents, and unifies them into a single map, so that taking the L-train is just as likely to drop you off in Tokyo or Mumbai as it is in Williamsburg.
Designed by the New York-based collective ArtCodeData, the World Metro Map is a digital collage that ties together 791 subway lines and 11,924 stations into one sprawling megastructure of public transportation. The map’s style is based on the diagram of the Tokyo Metro System, but contains stations from countless others. Although it looks like a nervous system of rainbow spaghetti, there’s logic to the way the World Metro Map is laid out, with the oldest subway systems connecting in the middle and newer ones at the outskirts of the map.
According to the map’s designer, Gerardo Cid, the germ of the idea for the World Metro Map came from Dutch artist Constant Nieuwenhuys’s New Babylon project, a vision of an anti-capitalist “world wide city of the future” which would literally hover over the Earth, and be home to a new species of humans, homo ludens, or “men at play.” Cid says New Babylon, while not realistic, fascinated him because it linked mobility and free transit with creative freedom.
The World Metro Map is an attempt to explore some of those ideas on a smaller, more familiar scale. “We chose the subway because it’s an element with similar characteristics in every big city around the world,” says Cid. “It’s something someone living in Tokyo, Mexico City or New York or Istanbul can relate to. A map is just a way to say we are all sharing a parallel experience, [so] why don’t we connect it?”
In keeping with New Babylon’s utopian ideas on how free transit can help save the world, the World Metro Map is now available from Kickstarter, with proceeds going to Open Accessibility, a non-profit that aims to facilitate travel for people living with disabilities. Because you just know a huge chunk of the World Metro Map’s 11,000+ subway stations aren’t wheelchair accessible. Order a print here.