No Direction Home

The map below was part of an insert on page 9 of the freely-distributed Metro newspaper on Thursday, September 16th, 2010. The stated function of the insert was to inform commuters of changes to a number of cross town bus routes. However the map must have struck a number of chords with cartographers and cultural geographers alike. It’s a ‘carto-image’ worthy of much deeper analysis than outlined below but three things initially strike one as interesting.

(For a sharper and more detailed version, click on Corridor Map)

1)      Where exactly do good old-fashioned cardinal points (north, south, east and west) fit into the map? While all due respect should be given to Beck’s famous London underground map which was the grand-daddy of such forms of spatial representation, at least he (click for link to underground map) had the good grace to get the cartographic orientation right. Here Newtownmountkennedy is the most ‘northerly’ point on the image while Ongar Green (on the outskirts of Blanchardstown) is the most ‘southerly. Odd indeed.

2)      What the map also shows is a very interesting link back to a classic of urban geographical representation, Lynch’s work on Images of the City, and the notions of place legibility. What we observe on the map are the kinds of lines and points which he would have described as paths, nodes and landmarks and which aid the daily negotiations of city space. Here the representations might arguably be commuter-perceived images of the city but to what extent do they truly represent the wider experiential spaces of the daily commuter or city resident? And what about the ‘spaces in between’, Lynch’s edges and districts?

3)      Finally there are partial suggestions in the map of a connection to Relph’s notions of ‘place and placelessness’, but more specifically to a consideration of what people understand now as a place. Looking more closely at the nodes on this network, how many different types of places can you spot and is there any consistency in how such places are identified or classified? Personally while I have a good sense of where Ballymun is, I am fascinated by what sort of a geographical setting Shop River is? While a good cultural geographer can readily accept that there are multiple types of places, to what extent do some of the ‘places’ listed here challenge or stretch understandings of a ‘sense of place’?

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2 comments

  1. I’m also baffled by this map. I can’t fathom how they signed off on it. Really, someone from Dublin Bus needs to come out of the woodwork and explain their actions!

    I mean, never mind what people living in the city will make of it, but what about visitors?

    Is it the worst transport map of all time?

    Like

  2. Two obviuos errors:

    1. It doesn’t show all the buses that serve the “places” shown.
    2. As Serbhis is obviously the hub of the dublin bus network – why isnt this shown!

    Like

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