Designers point fingers over subway map inaccuracies

Can you spot the errors?

Have you ever taken a good, long look at an NYC subway guide? If you are well-versed in the city’s grid system may have noticed a few things out of place. But if you’re like most New Yorkers, and only reference the map to see which lines go to which stations and where you can transfer, then some rather blundering inaccuracies may have slipped by you.

A New York Times article points out the mistakes that are quite glaring once they’re brought to light:

On the West Side of Manhattan, beginning near Lincoln Center and extending toward the campus of Columbia University, Broadway is seemingly misplaced. It is west of Amsterdam Avenue at West 66th Street when it should be east. It drifts toward West End Avenue near 72nd Street, where it should intersect with Amsterdam. It overtakes West End Avenue north of the avenue’s actual endpoint near West 107th Street, creating several blocks of fictitious Upper West Side real estate.

The errors were finally discovered by John Tauranac, the man in charge of the committee who redesigned the subway map in 1979. Some of the errors in that version have persisted through the years and are still present in the most recent subway guide.

“I’m more than embarrassed,” Tauranac said.

But the discovery of the errors has led to more than just embarrassment. It’s also fired up a debate over who exactly designed the map and who deserves credit, for both the accurate and inaccurate elements.

Michael Hertz belongs to the firm that is credited with the map’s initial template. After the inaccuracies came to light, Hertz accused Tauranac of trying to take credit for the whole map when he apologized for the errors.

“That’s his shtick,” Hertz said, though he wasn’t exactly forthcoming with full responsibility for the errors either.

“He’s overseeing the project,” Hertz added about Tauranac. “I was not an expert on the geography of the city.”

The MTA said revisions to correct the mistakes would be considered for future map designs, though spokesman Adam Lisberg said the map isn’t really intended to be an accurate depiction of city streets anyway and no straphangers have ever complained about the errors.

“This is not a street map,” Mr. Lisberg said. “This is a subway map.”


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