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The Tube 150 Anniversary: London Underground Map History In Pictures

09/01/2013 10:44 | Updated 11 January 2013

The London Underground map has evolved from a simple geographically accurate depiction of lines in 1908 to a repeatedly re-interpreted piece of iconic modernist art, recognisable throughout the world.

Even in its most basic form, the evolution of the Tube map is a fascinating glimpse through London's history, charting the expansion of the city over more than 100 years.

The first combined map, from 1908, is a hand drawn affair showing eight lines the vast majority of which are in central London, north of the river.

tube underground map

The first combined Tube map from 1908

Fast forward to today and the current Tube map shows a sprawling network of undergrounds, overgrounds and even cable cars.

It may have lost the rough charm of the original but the modern London Underground map is possibly the most practical and most used piece of art in the world.

Take a journey with the Huffington Post UK...

  • 1889
    Transport for London
    Early Tube maps were simply geographical versions with the lines overlaid. This shows the District Railway and the Metropolitan Lines and the Circle Line which joined the two in 1884.
  • 1908
    London Transport Museum
    An early example of 'UndergrounD' logo.
  • 1921
    London Transport Museum
    This map shows interchanges as white dots and discarded all detail other than the lines.
  • 1933
    London Transport Museum
    1933 saw the first example of Harry Beck's schematic maps, created in an attempt to make them more readable. The move marked a turning point in their design.
  • 1937
    London Transport Museum
    This pre-war version shows areas of interest such as galleries and cathedrals.
  • 1937
    London Transport Museum
  • 1936
    London Transport Museum
    The words 'London' and 'Transport' added to the logo.
  • 1943
    London Transport Museum
    Evidence of Beck attempting to limit the use of diagonal lines in his designs.
  • 1948
    London Transport Museum
  • 1951
    London Transport Museum
    This version was adjusted so that Richmond was placed next to the Thames unlike previous maps.
  • 1958
    London Transport Museum
    The bends of the River Thames become more pronounced, reflecting the format of the lines.
  • 1963
    London Transport Museum
    The Underground's Publicity Officer, Harold F Hutchinson, took over design duties for this version but it's cluttered look did not go down well.
  • 1964
    London Transport Museum
    Paul E. Garbutt's design allowed for bends in the lines to create space for station names.
  • 1970
    London Transport Museum
    The more familiar 'Underground' logo appears with evenly sized characters.
  • 1974
    London Transport Museum
    The Victoria line all the way to Brixton appears.
  • 1977
    London Transport Museum
    One of the last pre-Jubilee Line era maps.
  • 1986
    London Transport Museum
    The original Charing Cross station is renamed Embankment.
  • 1987
    London Transport Museum
  • 1990
    London Transport Museum
    Jubilee line extensions added
  • 1994
    London Transport Museum
  • 1998
    London Transport Museum
    Zonal areas introduced on the maps.
  • 1999 March
    London Transport Museum
  • 1999 December
    London Transport Museum
  • 2010
    London Transport Museum
  • 2012
    TfL
    the 150th anniversary edition.
  • 2016
    TfL
    What we're familiar with today.
  • The vision for 2019
    TfL
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