(Originally published August 3, 2010, a lazy many years after the author actually created the map)
Being a son of a seafarer, I developed a kind of fascination with being on the sea, and with maps. It is because of the latter (and because I happened to live in Boston, and because I didn’t quite like how MBTA imitated Harry Beck, and because I always wanted to know how far it actually is between the different subway stops) that in 2005 I decided to make an actual Boston subway map, that is, a geographically-accurate map of all subway stops.
It was several years ago — I believe MBTA may have added a few subway stops since then, and you can also see all these stops on Google Maps, but there’s something elegant in the simplicity of my diagram. It’s also a good case study of Google Maps, scripting and LaTeX.
The idea was to find all the subway stops on a map downloaded from Google Maps using the locations of the stops as reported by MBTA (as you can imagine, it was a humongous pain to click on every single station map to figure out where to actually plot each station), and put the coordinates of each station in a LaTeX file that would generate the pdf image of the subway map. I used pstricks, which is a great LaTeX package for drawing graphics.
I wrote a tcsh script downloads the relevant quadrants from Google Maps and creates an HTML file that displays all the quadrants on one large page (you can download the script below).
Then I opened the large map in Photoshop and figured out the coordinates of each subway station and turned them into a LaTeX file. Finally, I ran LaTeX to generate the following image file: