When Los Angeles's streetcar system shut down for good in the 1960s, the city was deprived of one of the more idiosyncratic pleasures of urban living: a truly iconic map. Clover interchanges and freeway exits just don't look as good on paper, at least until now.
A new map from Boston-based designer Peter Dunn re-imagines the city's trademark freeway system using the familiar design of subway maps. The map elegantly displays 31 freeways, 75 interchanges, and more than 850 exits on one poster. Dunn launched a Kickstarter in late June to collect pre-orders for a first print run. A month later, with 404 individual backers and around 500 orders, Dunn has raised nearly six times his initial goal of $2,000.
One of Dunn's biggest challenges involved figuring out how to best represent complex interchanges. He spent hours scouring print and Google maps to figure out the details of each connection, including how different directions hooked up for each road and where there were entrances for express and HOV lanes. This close-up of downtown gives a sense of Dunn's monumental task:
Dunn has worked nights and weekends on the map since January, fitting it in around his full-time job as an urban planner. "If I'd known ahead of time the real size of the freeway system in L.A., I would have picked something different," he says. "It's a tedious hobby. It's like knitting."
Through his Kickstarter, Dunn also solicited feedback from L.A. locals to correct a final proof of his map. Most of the suggested changes were small, as he tried to more accurately reflect the ways that Angelenos really refer to different roads and intersections. "These are the sort of things that give you a little credibility when someone in L.A. has it hanging on their wall," he explains.
This isn't the first time Dunn has dabbled in unusual maps. He's also created a map of Boston's T system that showed time, rather than distance, between stations and one that laid out all of the streets named after states in Washington, D.C.
"It's always surprising to me that people really latch on to maps this much," Dunn says of his Kickstarter's success. "People like to see their cities in different ways."