Observing Los Angeles

LA freeway system redrawn as a subway map


Designer Peter Dunn re-envisioned the Los Angeles area freeways and mounted a Kickstarter campaign that raised enough money to print the map on 36-inch by 24-inch heavy stock. It funded last week. He explains:

Getting around Los Angeles without using the freeways would be like travelling London without taking the Underground. Sure, you could do it, but it would only show you how inexorably linked those cities are to their dominant modes of transportation. The maps of those freeways, however, haven’t gotten nearly the design attention that transit maps have enjoyed. A standard metro area highway map is filled with features outside of the highways—boulevards, local streets, places of interest—that are just the sort of extraneous information that transit maps omit. At the same time, these maps typically gloss over the details of actually using the interchanges and exits on the freeways themselves. That style of highway map is no doubt useful for many purposes. But what would happen if you designed a map that focused on the freeways as a standalone system, stripping out non-essential information to focus on navigation of the network itself?

You’d get something that looks more like a transit map. The diagram I’ve designed gives a simplified view of freeway transportation in the greater Los Angeles region by borrowing principles from transit maps. It clarifies connections among a network of 31 freeways stretching across portions of Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties, an area about the size of Connecticut. With some 75 freeway interchanges and more than 850 exits, the diagram allows Angelenos to trace a route between any of the countless pairs of entrances and exits on a single poster-sized map....

Don’t let the aesthetics fool you, though: a freeway isn’t transit. In this transportation system, you’re required to provide your own vehicle, at your own expense, and you’ll need to maintain and fuel that vehicle regularly. A chauffeur is not included, so get some driver training, then leave that magazine or laptop in your bag and give the road your full attention. Traffic delays will be bad, or perhaps terrible--please buffer your schedule accordingly. Lastly, the hazards on the freeways are largely determined by everyone else using it, so unfortunately no one can guarantee your safety. But none of that’s to say that you don’t deserve a prettier map!

He goes into a lot of detail on his design decisions at Stonebrown Design.

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