John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.
See how many of the show's references you can spot in the expanded Springfield subway system.
This Sunday's Simpsons may have drawn middling reviews from some quarters, but it was important in one major way: The episode provided a much-needed update to the extent of Springfield's public-transit system, which is revealed to include many color-coded lines and stations like Mattress City, Guidopolis, Unauthorized Beatles Museum, and the "Varmint District."
Thanks to Cameron Booth, who runs the wonderful site Transit Maps, the world can now carefully inspect how far the Springfield Transit Authority has evolved. Last we knew, the city's subway system was mostly inoperative because its creaky, vibrating trains were damaging the foundations of buildings. In terms of routes, it was a simplistic loop with small tentacles snaking into a Bridge Street Station and a Harbor Station, like so:
The 2014 system is still abandoned-looking, though the trains run for some reason. But with seven intertwining lines, it has a far more complex structure, like a knot of gummy snakes. Many of the stops should be familiar to regular viewers: The Pink Line begins in Shelbyville, home to "Monorail!" and lemon tree-thievin' cousin-marryers, and ends at the tentacle-cannery-turned-waterfront-mall Squidport. The Purple Line's terminus is at Springfield Gorge, the rocky chasm responsible for much of the scar tissue on Homer's noggin. There even appears to be an extension to the Springfield International Airport that sent the family to Japan (after they stole seats from stupid Flanders, of course).
The map indicates that Springfield's demographics are quite diverse. There's a Little Italy, a Medium-Sized Italy, a Little Ethiopia, a vaguely named Ethnictown, and a women's prison. Entertainment options are plentiful, with the ever-fascinating Museum of Sandpaper, the Duff Brewery, and the fire-spreading monstrosity that is the 50-Foot Magnifying Glass. Some references hard to fathom – what's in Jerk Circle? – but perhaps die-hard fans can explain them in the comments.
Here's a closer look at the map's western and southern regions: