A Fascinating Documentary Short That Takes an Inside Look Into the Newly Redesigned NYC Live Subway Map

“The Map” is a short documentary by filmmaker Gary Hustwit (previously) that takes a fascinating look into the newly launched, technologically forward New York City Live Subway Map.

Filmmaker Gary Hustwit documents the process as digital agency Work & Co creates a new “live map” — one that updates in real-time — to help New Yorkers and tourists better plan their journeys.

Redesigning the NYC subway map has always presented a challenging task for those who seek to change it, and this time proved no different. The members of the Work & Co team who worked on this redesign speak openly about the history of the subway map, those who came before them with new maps, the challenges they faced incorporating technological advances into a traditionally static item, and the importance of keeping commuters safe in this unprecedented tom of COVID-19.

The map builds on the legendary (and controversial) 1972 diagram designed by Massimo Vignelli and Joan Charysyn, but uses new technology and digital design to simplify one of the world’s most complex transit systems. The Live Map project was started before COVID hit, and was done pro bono by Work & Co for the city, which I think is an incredible act of generosity.

The Map

Hustwit also very cleverly referenced an iconic scene from the 1979 film The Warriors, which was about a street gang who needed to travel from the North Bronx to their home in Coney Island, Brooklyn. Taking the NYC subway was a big part of the film.

Thanks Rochelle Iverson!