Peter Dunn

Public transit nerds, prepare to geek out.

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:

Peter Dunn

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."

(h/t International Business Times)

About the Author

Stephanie Garlock
Stephanie Garlock

Stephanie Garlock is a former fellow at CityLab.

Most Popular

  1. Homeless individuals inside a shelter in Vienna in 2010
    Equity

    How Vienna Solved Homelessness

    What lessons could Seattle draw from their success?

  2. Two New York City subway cars derailed on the A line in Harlem Tuesday, another reminder of the MTA's many problems.
    Transportation

    Overcrowding Is Not the New York Subway's Problem

    Yes, the trains are packed. But don’t blame the victims of the city’s transit meltdown.

  3. Postcards showing the Woodner when it used to be a luxury apartment-hotel in the '50s and '60s, from the collection of John DeFerrari
    Equity

    The Neighborhood Inside a Building

    D.C.’s massive Woodner apartment building has lived many lives—from fancy hotel to one of the last bastions of affordable housing in a gentrifying neighborhood. Now, it’s on the brink of another change.

  4. Life

    Why a City Block Can Be One of the Loneliest Places on Earth

    Feelings of isolation are common in cities. Let’s take a look at how the built environment plays into that.

  5. Mack Donohue, who has been homeless since 2008, carries his belongings into a shelter in Boston, Massachusetts February 27, 2015.
    Equity

    Rethinking Homeless Shelters From the Ground Up

    One nonprofit wants to reward results, and change the funding model in the process.