NYC’s absurdist Subway map

New York studio Triboro’s Subway map evokes the rigid grid of the city’s layout, but also its chaotic nature at the same time: it’s printed only in fluorescent red

New York studio Triboro’s Subway map evokes the rigid grid of the city’s layout, but also its chaotic nature at the same time: it’s printed only in fluorescent red…

Triboro, the studio of David Heasty and Stefanie Weigler, stripped away all of the familiar colour-coded subway routes to create a map – if map is still the right word – that subverts its own function. It’s designed to a tight grid, but any legibility is foregone because of the use of one single colour.

“All lines of the map are forced to conform to an underlying grid of 45 and 90 degree angles, yet surprisingly, the landmass contours here are more true-to-life than on the MTA map,” Heasty explained to Steven Heller recently. “The fluorescent red colour becomes an unpredictable variable, as legibility can change completely under different lighting conditions. The neon effect can be intense and retina-burning under certain lamps, washed out and unreadable in other environments, or glow otherworldly under black-lights.”

The map apparently offers “practical and aesthetic improvements to the existing subway map while simultaneously subverting these improvements through the absurd adherence to a single colour. In this way the map reflects the often contradictory experience of New York City, the rigid systems and grids constantly interrupted by the unpredictable realities of a metropolis, the intermingling forces of order and chaos, and the city’s visual communications frequent inability to make sense of it all.”

The offset lithographic map is printed in a limited edition run of 300 pieces. At 45×58″ the poster is the same size as the large MTA Subway maps that are located at entrances to New York Subway stations. 

For more information on the map or to obtain copies, email:

More of Tiroboro’s work is at and their Leftovers page. The Subway map can also be purchased from The Future Perfect site.

UPDATE: David at Triboro just emailed us the picture below. Apparently it’s what the poster looks when shot using “black lights”. No retouching…


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