VSL// Mapping the underground world

Lovers of foreign travel, urban history, and metropolitan transportation (that would include us) need look no further for the next must-have book than the oversize Transit Maps of the World: The World’s First Collection of Every Urban Train Map on Earth.

Author Mark Ovenden has created an excellent compendium of beautiful (but oddly similar) subway maps from all over the world. Along with subway-station photos and complete maps of 97 subway and trolley lines — from the biggest and most obvious (New York, Paris, London) to ones you probably never knew existed (Taipei, Budapest, Cologne, Tunis, and Jacksonville) — the book also features historical context on urban transportation and highlights the (often) brilliant designs of subway maps.

Transit Maps has a practical use as well: If you’re at a dinner party and someone talks up her recent trip to Lisbon, you’ll sound like a native when you comment on the coolness of the city’s Picoas subway station.

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(Penguin; softcover; 144 pages)

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VSL// Mapping the underground world