In 1964, the New York City Transit Authority held a design competition for a new subway map. The winning submission from lawyer R. Raleigh D’Adamo disappeared soon after, only to be rediscovered last the fall. Now, it has been digitally restored.
D’Adamo’s design featured color-coding that differentiated local and express routes, an innovation at the time. Station symbols were only drawn in spots on the line where the train stopped. To save space, lines that shared routes were indicated by alternating blocks of color instead of parallel strips.
Over the course of three years, D’Adamo’s design underwent major revisions before it became New York City’s official subway map in 1967. But D’Adamo’s original hand-drawn submission disappeared completely into the bowels of the Transit Authority’s publicity office. But this past October, as Peter Lloyd of Transit Map History reports, D’Adamo found a color photograph of his lost subway map in his basement. He and Lloyd worked with graphic designer Reka Komoli to recreate it as a as a digital vector graphics file.
The D’Adamo-inspired map was replaced by Massimo Vignelli’s now-classic design in 1972, which borrowed several design principles from this lost-and-found original. The restored document is a colorful bit of New York City design history, which Lloyd plans to use as the centerpiece of his forthcoming book on subway map lore.