News

Metro’s Plan: Get the Picture or Get Lost?

A new book, The Great Society Subway: A History of the Washington Metro by George Mason professor Zachary Schrag, unearths some interesting background on the 106-mile transit system that connects the region.

New York graphic designer Lance Wyman, called on to do a map of the Metro system, wanted to represent each Metro stop with a pictogram to assist non-English-speaking tourists in navigating the city.

Wheaton would have been a sheaf of wheat; Dupont Circle would have shown the Dupont fountain; Rosslyn, the Key Bridge.

In his suggestions, suburbs were often designated with symbols nodding to their agricultural roots: cherries (Clarendon), windmill (Forest Glen), and a tobacco barrel (Springfield).

Had the map plan been implemented, Metro would have needed new pictograms for later stations: Would the Largo Town Center station be a dollar sign representing an expensive afternoon at nearby FedEx Field?

Get Washingtonian’s Daily DC Updates (Not Just Another Political News Roundup)

Questions or comments? You can reach us on Twitter, via e-mail, or by contacting the author directly: