Maps distort geography.

For example, the map of New York's subway system shrinks the massive borough of Staten Island and makes Manhattan look bigger than it really is.

The best maps are easy to use and easy to read. Sometimes, they're useful because they're not accurate.


In 1933, Henry Beck saw that the London Underground was too hard to understand, so he simplified the map.

He abandoned geographic accuracy, which was the standard for maps until then.

Instead, Beck focused on connections between trains and the network of stations.

There are many ways to visualize a city.

Here are some old maps of the New York subway system.

Massimo Vignelli transformed the New York subway map.

Key features:

• No messy angles
• Train lines ran only at 45 and 90-degree angles
• Each line had its own color
• Each stop had its own dot
• Train maps were no longer geographically accurate

Plus, it's beautiful.

You can follow @david_perell.


Tip: mention @threader_app on a Twitter thread with the keyword “compile” to get a link to it.

Enjoy Threader? Sign up.

Threader is an independent project created by only two developers. The site gets 500,000+ visits a month and our iOS Twitter client was featured as an App of the Day by Apple. Running this space is expensive and time consuming. If you find Threader useful, please consider supporting us to make it a sustainable project.