Jake Coolidge Cartography

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Regional Rapid Transit for the Bay Area

2013. Adobe Illustrator artwork compiled and modified from geographic data developed in QGIS and Google Earth.

My Master’s thesis research explored the unlikely second wave of rapid transit planning that occurred at mid-century in the United States. One of those plans, from 1956, proposed a massive rapid transit system for the nine counties of the Bay Area. This transit diagram imagines what the Bay Area Rapid Transit system might have looked like had that vision ever come to fruition. Of course, the chances of this system being built were less than slim. But the response to this map on blogs including Ten Times One, Laughing Squid, Muni Diaries, and Mission Mission make it clear that it the dream, for some of us, is a tantalizing one.

The map above was featured on Wired Science's Map Lab. My thanks to Adam Mann for including my map in such an interesting gallery. It appears fantasy transit maps have truly arrived as a curious and (I like to think) thought-provoking sub-genre.

Indeed, the dream of a Bay Area-wide integrated rapid transit system is somehow so compelling that I’ve returned to it repeatedly over the years. The version above is actually the third version. Edits and revisions in this version include the adoption of stop symbols like those found on the London Underground diagram, which allowed me to place the stop labels more clearly. Also, this version integrates the Transbay Terminal as an important transfer station. Some stops have been renamed and typographical errors corrected. Perhaps most obviously, I’ve removed the BART logo and any mention of BART or its website, replacing it with a more explicit reference to the planning document that inspired the map, Regional Rapid Transit, published in 1956. If you're interested in purchasing a copy, click here.

By scrolling down this page, you’ll travel back in time, and witness both how my concept for the fantastic system changed over time, but also how my cartographic design skills have evolved over time.

Earlier versions

"Bay Area Rides Together (The BART System That Never Was)" 2011. Adobe Illustrator artwork compiled and modified from geographic data developed in QGIS and Google Earth.

"BART Reimagined" 2010. Adobe Illustrator artwork compiled and modified from geographic data developed in QGIS and Google Earth.

All content © 2009 - 2014 Jake Coolidge. All rights reserved. This website lovingly hand-built and maintained by Jake Coolidge. This page last updated 30 April 2014.