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New York City Street and Subway Maps

Updated on October 3, 2014

Historic Maps of the New York City Subway

Find the most popular NYC subway and street maps. Take a tour of the New York City with historic maps from three privately owned transit systems that provided service to the "outer boroughs" that were once independent cities around Manhattan. The IRT, BMT and IND train lines were incorporated into the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) on June 15, 1953.

The current subway map was recently updated by graphic designer Michael Hertz, who created this version originally in 1979. Go back in time and see the map transform as a reflection of the many changes to one of the largest cities in the world.

All maps via NYC Transit Museum

Current NYC subway map - Five cities and three subway systems combined

Platform Map of the New York City Subway system
Platform Map of the New York City Subway system

You can see the large version of this poster on the subway platforms at major staions. The large map is four feet wide and almost five feet tall. Maps on the subway cars are 24 x 30 inches.

Popular maps of New York City - Current subway, bus and sightseeing maps

Waterproof paper maps fold down to the size of a standard business envelope.

1979 Subway Map

MTA New York City Transit Map - 1979
MTA New York City Transit Map - 1979

In response to widespread public dissatisfaction with the geometric, abstract design introduced in 1972, the MTA developed a new map in time for the subway's 75th anniversary. After community and committee meetings, and testing a prototype, the result, which emphasized the city's geography, was more realistic, and easier to read. The map also introduced a new color-coding system based on trunk lines rather than individual routes.

Neighborhood Maps - Outside the subway turnstyles

Source

Station subway map and local neighborhood map outside the gates to the subway
in the West Village, near the Meatpacking District, in New York City. Photo: dotpattern

Ask your bus driver for a free map showing the bus route and a scheduled arrival times for all the stops. Information is also posted at the bus stops that lists the number of the bus, a diagram of the bus route and a schedule.

The MetroCard is used to pay for the ride on buses and subways in New York City, and you can get an automatic free transfer between a subway and bus, or between buses. Learn all about the MetroCard in the introduction to the NYC subway and the Transit System. Different types of MetroCards are used for the separate AirTrain service to JFK International Airport and Express Bus service from the outer boroughs.

Interactive transit maps

Subway maps, bus routes and schedules

Go to the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) website to use the interactive maps and timetables online for all subway and bus routes. Subway maps are free at all ticket booths that are located at major stations stops in Manhattan and the boroughs. Large subway maps and local neighborhood maps are displayed outside ticket booths and on station platforms. Simplified maps and diagrams of each subway line are posted in subway cars, and you can download the subway map app for your cellphone for easy, off-line reference.

Books about the subway

From the subway cars and stations to the construction of the tunnels, these books cover every topic about the subway.

Subway Map from 1972

Map of the New York City Subway system - 1972
Map of the New York City Subway system - 1972

From the Transit Museum: "Simple, elegant, and abstract, the Vignelli subway map has long been considered a landmark in modern graphic design. Its very abstraction, however, made the map difficult to understand and generally unpopular."

NYC Graffiti Art - Subway cars, tunnels and on the street

The evolution of graffiti can be seen on the canvas of city streets and subway trains from the early 1960s to the present day. In all that time, it has remained an outsider art form, mostly independent from the formal art world.

Art and Music in the Subway

Feel the Rhythm Poster | New York City Transit Museum
Feel the Rhythm Poster | New York City Transit Museum

Music Under New York's (MUNY) performers share an incredible selection of music with transit riders at key locations in the transit system. You can find musicians and performers in the transfer tunnels at major connection points, at Union Square and Grand Central Station, for example.

In this poster, artist Philippe Lechien captures the robust energy, tunes, and melodies that make the commuter's experience more lively.

Vintage NYC Subway Map 1958

Official New York City Map and Station Guide - 1958
Official New York City Map and Station Guide - 1958

George Salomon's map for the Transit Authority was the first to show the entire system as a whole. Black lines on the map represent the tracks of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT), green for the BMT, and red for the IND. This map still shows the correct geography of the city in a simplified form.



Feel the Rhythm at 72nd Street - Photograph in the subway

Source

1938 Independent Rapid Transit Map (IRT)

Station Guide: Independent City Owned Rapid Transit Railroad - 1938
Station Guide: Independent City Owned Rapid Transit Railroad - 1938

Each of the lines of the Independent Rapid Transit Railroad (IND) is represented by a specific color in this map with sharp lines and cloud-like schematic representations of the boroughs.


Kindle Fire offline NYC subway map - Free Subway and Bus app

NYC Bus & Subway Maps for Android (Google Play)

One map of the subway with touch screen controls to pinch and zoom for offline viewing inside the subway. Five separate maps of the buses in each borough. Turn on settings to allow sideloaded apps on Kindle Fire. Visit Google Play to get the NYC Bus and Subway Map for other Android devices.

1925 Brooklyn Manhattan Transit (BMT)

BMT Lines Rapid Transit Division - 1925
BMT Lines Rapid Transit Division - 1925

This early map of the independent Brooklyn Manhattan Transit (BMT) system from 1925 shows routes as thick, exaggerated lines on a simple map based on the real geography of the region. Red lines show the numerous elevated tracks in the transit system at the time, and subway tunnels are shown in black.

Vote for your favorite - Vintage subway posters

Which is your favorite NYC Subway poster?

See results

"Goodbye, everybody!" - New Yorker Cartoon by Robert Leighton

For any questions or comments about the subway maps, please leave a note and I will post an answer back here as soon as possible. When in New York City, simply call 311 for local information and questions about New York City services or major events (available in several languages).

Vintage subway Maps

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    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      You know what? This actually looks like a good topic for a Squidoo lens. I have never been to New York or in a subway, but the maps are interesting. Best wishes with this.

    • elyria profile image

      elyria 6 years ago

      Very interesting, really enjoyed exploring it!

    • profile image

      KarenCookieJar 6 years ago

      I saw a tumblr photo recently of someone who had a subway transit map tattooed on her foot.

    • fugeecat lm profile image

      fugeecat lm 5 years ago

      This was really interesting to read.

    • iWriteaLot profile image

      iWriteaLot 5 years ago

      Fascinating lens! I don't know how New Yorkers do it. I know I'd love to visit and ride the subway but I also know I'd be lost for sure!

    • profile image

      atomicgirl24 5 years ago

      Sad to say, but I'm old enough to remember the map from '79!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 5 years ago from Ljubljana

      Thanks for your presentation and amazing time travel through maybe the biggest star of all cities - The Big Apple!

    • NickyT LM profile image

      NickyT LM 5 years ago

      Great resource for learning about NYC subways. I used to ride them regularly when I worked in the city in the late 1980s.

    • jadehorseshoe profile image

      jadehorseshoe 5 years ago

      GREAT Lens!!!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Returning for and angel dusting the maps of New York City ........

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 5 years ago from Southampton, UK

      We spent a long weekend in NYC 4 years ago, but never managed to use the subway system. Maybe next time. I used to use the London Underground all the time.

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